Cortical correlates of susceptibility to upper limb freezing in Parkinson's disease

Marlieke Scholten*, Rathinaswamy B. Govindan, Christoph Braun, Bastiaan R. Bloem, Christian Plewnia, Rejko Krüger, Alireza Gharabaghi, Daniel Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Freezing behavior is an unmet symptom in Parkinson's disease (PD), which reflects its complex pathophysiology. Freezing behavior can emerge when attentional capacity is reduced, i.e. under dual task interference. In this study, we characterized the cortical network signatures underlying the susceptibility to freezing during continuous finger tapping. Methods: Fourteen PD patients with STN-DBS and thirteen age- and gender-matched healthy controls performed continuous tapping with the index finger as single motor task and during dual tasking. Synchronized EEG and mechanogram of the finger tapping were recorded. Subsequently, we analyzed cortical activity and cortico-cortical phase synchronization. We correlated these spectral measures with the biomechanically confirmed numbers of freezing episodes during finger tapping. Results: During dual tasking compared to the single motor task, PD patients showed an increase of cortico-cortical phase synchronization over the left prefrontal area from 13 to 30 Hz. This correlated with increased occurrence of freezing episodes. Interestingly, PD patients lacked the increase of prefrontal cortico-cortical synchronization from 4 to 7 Hz during dual tasking as observed in healthy controls. Conclusion: Dual task interference led to an increase of left prefrontal beta band synchronization (13-30 Hz) in PD and this increment predicted the number of freezing episodes. This increment may underscore the relevance of prefrontal executive dysfunction in freezing susceptibility. Significance: These findings enhance our understanding of the pathological network mechanisms behind increased susceptibility to freezing behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2386-2393
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortical activity
  • Electroencephalography
  • Global phase synchronization
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation
  • Upper limb freezing


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