BACKGROUND: It is well known that a deficit in inhibitory control is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, inhibition is not a unitary construct, and it is unclear whether patients in the early stage of the disease (Hoehn and Yahr stage 1) exhibit a deficit in outright stopping (reactive inhibition), a deficit in the ability to shape their response strategies according to the context (proactive inhibition), or both.
OBJECTIVE: We assessed whether PD patients at Hoehn and Yahr stage 1 show a global or selective impairment in inhibitory control. As it has been suggested that inhibition relies upon a right-lateralized pathway, we tested whether left-dominant PD patients suffered from a more severe deficit in this executive function than right-dominant PD patients.
METHODS: Via a reaching stop-signal task, we assessed both proactive and reactive inhibition in 17 left-dominant PD and 17 right-dominant PD patients and in 24 age-matched participants.
RESULTS: We found that reactive inhibition was more impaired in PD patients than in healthy participants. However, proactive inhibition was not affected. Furthermore, we found no differences between left-dominant PD and right-dominant PD patients.
CONCLUSIONS: For the first time, we found evidence for a deficit of reactive inhibition in the early-stage PD patients in the absence of evidence for deficits in proactive inhibition. These findings have clinical relevance as they provide critical insights on the time course of the disease. In addition, we confirmed, on a population of PD patients at Hoehn and Yahr stage 1, previous results showing that the onset of the disease does not affect inhibition. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.