Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33928399
Link to DOI – 10.1007/s00221-021-06034-7
Exp Brain Res 2021 Jul; 239(7): 2063-2075
There is growing interest in how social processes and behaviour might be affected in Parkinson’s disease. A task which has been widely used to assess how people orient attention in response to social cues is the spatial cueing task. Socially relevant directional cues, such as a picture of someone gazing or pointing to the left or the right have been shown to cause orienting of visual attention in the cued direction. The basal ganglia may play a role in responding to such directional cues, but no studies to date have examined whether similar social cueing effects are seen in people with Parkinson’s disease. In this study, patients and healthy controls completed a prosaccade (Experiment 1) and an antisaccade task (Experiment 2) in which the target was preceded by arrow, eye gaze or pointing finger cues. Patients showed increased errors and response times for antisaccades but not prosaccades. Healthy participants made most anticipatory errors on pointing finger cue trials, but Parkinson’s patients were equally affected by arrow, eye gaze and pointing cues. It is concluded that Parkinson’s patients have a reduced ability to suppress responding to directional cues, but this effect is not specific to social cues.