Monthly Archives: May 2013

Learning stimulus-saccade mappings in Parkinsons

In our most recent research paper (published this month in the journal Neuropsychologia ), we investigated how people with Parkinsons perform a computerised eye movement rule switching task, which we have used previously in patients with frontal lobe damage (see U-tube video: and Summer Scientist 2012).

Many every day tasks require us to learn to make links between what we see and where we look with our eyes. We also need to be able to switch between performing one task or another (e.g. making a cup of tea, reading the newspaper and then answering the telephone) and learn new skills such as preparing a new recipe or learning a new game or sport.

Unlike patients with frontal lobe strokes, People with Parkinsons didn’t show any big problems in switching between stimulus-saccade “rules” (e.g. blue stimulus = look left), but were slower to learn a new rule by trial and error learning compared to participants without Parkinson. This suggests that the brain circuits and chemicals affected in Parkinsons play a role in this ability and that people with Parkinsons may have problems learning new visuo-spatial tasks over and above the obvious difficulties the condition causes with movement.

Parkinson's disease

Please contact me if you would like a reprint of the paper or would like to know more about this research.