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Supplementary Material for: Visual Attention and Saccadic Oculomotor Control in Parkinson's Disease

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posted on 24.04.2015, 00:00 by Buhmann C., Kraft S., Hinkelmann K., Krause S., Gerloff C., Zangemeister W.H.
Background: In patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) we aimed at differentiating the relation between selective visual attention, deficits of programming and dynamics of saccadic eye movements while searching for a target and hand-reaction time as well as hand-movement time. Visual attention is crucial for concentrating selectively on one aspect of the visual field while ignoring other aspects. Eye movements are anatomically and functionally related to mechanisms of visual attention. Saccadic dysfunction might confound selective visual attention in PD. Methods: We studied visual selective attention in 22 medicated PD patients (clinical ON status, mild to moderate disease severity) and 22 age matched controls. We looked for possible interferences through oculomotor deficits. Two tasks were compared: free viewing of photographs and time optimal visual search of a hidden target. Visual search times (VST), task related dynamics of saccades, and hand-reaction and hand-movement times were analyzed. Results: In the free viewing task mild to moderately affected PD patients did not differ statistically from healthy subjects with respect to saccade dynamics. However, patients differed significantly from healthy subjects in the time optimal visual search task with 25% lower rates of successful searches. Hand movement reaction time did not differ in both groups, whereas hand movement execution time was significantly prolonged in PD patients. Conclusion: Saccadic oculomotor control and hand movement reaction times were intact, whereas in our less severely affected treated PD patients, visual selective attention was not. The highly reduced successful search rate might be related to disturbed programming and delayed execution of saccades during time optimal visual search due to decreased execution of serial-order sequential generation of saccades.