Recently we found that modulation depth of beta power during movement increases with practice over sensory-motor areas in normal subjects but not in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). As such changes might reflect use-dependent modifications, we concluded that reduction of beta enhancement in PD represents saturation of cortical plasticity. A few questions remained open: What is the relation between these EEG changes and retention of motor skills? Would a second task exposure restore beta modulation enhancement in PD? Do practice-induced increases of beta modulation occur within each block? We thus recorded EEG in patients with PD and age-matched controls in two consecutive days during a 40-min reaching task divided in fifteen blocks of 56 movements each. The results confirmed that, with practice, beta modulation depth over the contralateral sensory-motor area significantly increased across blocks in controls but not in PD, while performance improved in both groups without significant correlations between behavioral and EEG data. The same changes were seen the following day in both groups. Also, beta modulation increased within each block with similar values in both groups and such increases were partially transferred to the successive block in controls, but not in PD. Retention of performance improvement was present in the controls but not in the patients and correlated with the increase in day 1 modulation depth. Therefore, the lack of practice-related increase beta modulation in PD is likely due to deficient potentiation mechanisms that permit between-block saving of beta power enhancement and trigger mechanisms of memory formation.
- Journal Article