Activation of conflicting responses in Parkinson's disease: evidence for degrading and facilitating effects on response time.

Neuropsychologia

PubMedID: 15769489

Wylie SA, Stout JC, Bashore TR. Activation of conflicting responses in Parkinson's disease: evidence for degrading and facilitating effects on response time. Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(7):1033-43.
Response selection often occurs in a context of competition among conflicting responses. According to recent models, the basal ganglia may play an integral role in resolving this competition by focusing the selection and inhibition of responses. We hypothesized that basal ganglia dysfunction produced by Parkinson's disease (PD) disrupts selection among conflicting responses. Using a version of the Eriksen flanker task, we tested the specific prediction that individuals with PD would experience greater response interference when distractors in the visual field activate a response that conflicts with the target response. In addition, we investigated whether greater response interference induced by these distractors could actually reduce normal response time costs in PD when the task required production of the response opposite the target. Compared to 16 healthy controls (HC), 16 individuals with PD showed an exacerbated slowing when target and distracting stimuli corresponded to conflicting responses. No group differences occurred when targets and distractors corresponded to the same response. Furthermore, the slowing induced by the distractors was reduced in both groups, but more so in PD, when execution of a response opposite the target response (i.e. incompatible response) was required. Moreover, among individuals with PD, the magnitude of the interference produced by the distractors was related to clinical ratings of bradykinesia. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that basal ganglia dysfunction due to Parkinson's disease disrupts processes that resolve response conflict.