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Visual cues increase saccade frequency during gait in Parkinson's disease

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sam Stuart, Dr Brook Galna, Dr Alan Godfrey, Dr Susan Lord, Professor Lynn Rochester


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ObjectiveTo investigate saccade frequency in response to visual cues during gait in Parkinson’s disease.BackgroundParkinson’s disease is associated with gait disturbance such as slow, hesitant steps, festination, and freezing. Visual cues (e.g. transverse lines taped to the floor) are used in various settings to ameliorate Parkinson’s gait disturbance. However, response to visual cues is not universal and may be influenced by underlying visual and attentional control. This study examined saccadic (fast eye movement) response to visual cues in people with PD. MethodsSaccade frequency was measured using a Dikablis mobile eye-tracker in people with Parkinson’s (n=20) and age-matched controls (n=20). Participants completed a series of walking tasks under the following conditions: with and without a door frame; turning; single and dual task; with and without a visual cue. Cognitive and visual assessments were also performed at baseline (Stuart et al., 2014). ResultsPreliminary analysis (Parkinson’s=7, controls=7) demonstrated that people with Parkinson’s make fewer saccades than controls when walking straight with (0.56 vs 0.92 saccades/second) and without (0.72 vs 1.42 saccades/second) a doorframe in place. However, Parkinson’s subjects increase saccadic frequency more than controls when using a visual cue (0.34 vs -0.04 change in saccades/second). Further analysis will be conducted to provide greater insight into the mechanisms behind visual cues. Secondary analysis will explore the relationship between specific cognitive domains and saccadic frequency during the walks.ConclusionsIn non-cued conditions Parkinson’s subjects make fewer saccades than controls. Use of a visual cue enhances saccadic frequency, which indicates a positive response. Further work on a larger sample will provide more definitive results. ReferenceStuart, S., Alcock, L., Galna, B., Lord, S. and Rochester, L. (2014) 'The measurement of visual sampling during real-world activity in Parkinson's disease and healthy controls: A structured literature review', J Neurosci Methods, 222, pp. 175-88.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stuart S, King H, Galna B, Godfrey A, Lord S, Rochester L

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: North East Post-Graduate Conference

Year of Conference: 2014

Pages: 35-35

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900


DOI: 10.13140/2.1.2757.7289