Attention networks in Parkinson's disease: Freezing of gait related to impaired conflict resolution?

Jochen Vandenbossche, Joke Spildooren, Sarah Vercruysse, Natacha Deroost, Eric Soetens, Alice Nieuwboer, Eric Kerckhofs

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Freezing of gait (FOG) in Parkinson's disease (PD) cannot be seen solely as a motor symptom. Revealing cognitive differences between freezers (PD-F) and non-freezers (PD-NF), can be useful in order to gain further insight into the mechanisms of FOG. We assumed PD-F to be impaired in the executive control network, part of the Attention Network Task (ANT; Fan et al, 2002), as freezers tend to fail in more cognitive challenging tasks. In addition we investigated medication effects on attention network performance.
Methods: 3 groups (PD-F (n=9), PD-NF (n=9) and healthy controls (HC; n=5)) were matched for age, education and disease duration. General screening tools for dementia, global cognitive functioning and depression were administered. The ANT was used to assess the orienting, alerting and executive control network. We tested patients in both ON and OFF phase of their medication.
Results: According to our expectations PD-F displayed impairment in the executive control network compared to both PD-NF (p<.01) and HC (p<.05). The orienting and alerting networks showed no significant differences between groups. Comparing ON and OFF phase performances only revealed a marginal significant difference for the executive control network in PD-F (p=.10).
Conclusions: PD-F are impaired in the executive control network compared to PD-NF and HC. Medication tends to ameliorate executive control in PD-F possibly due to improved motor control. These results show that FOG can be associated with impaired conflict resolution.
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-43
Number of pages2
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Issue numberSupplement 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009


  • Parkinson
  • Attention
  • Executive control
  • Freezing of Gait


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