Sensory re-weighting for postural control in Parkinson’s disease

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38 Scopus citations


Postural instability in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by impaired postural responses to transient perturbations, increased postural sway in stance and difficulty transitioning between tasks. In addition, some studies suggest that loss of dopamine in the basal ganglia due to PD results in difficulty in using proprioceptive information for motor control. Here, we quantify the ability of subjects with PD and age-matched control subjects to use and re-weight sensory information for postural control during steady-state conditions of continuous rotations of the stance surface or visual surround. We measure the postural sway of subjects in response to a pseudorandom, surface-tilt stimulus with eyes closed, and in response to a pseudorandom, visual-tilt stimulus. We use a feedback control model of the postural control system to interpret our results, focusing on sensory weighting as a function of stimulus amplitude. We find that subjects with PD can re-weight their dependence upon sensory information in response to changes in surface- or visual-stimulus amplitude. Specifically, subjects with PD behaved like age-matched control subjects by decreasing proprioceptive contribution to stance control with increasing surface-tilt amplitude and decreasing visual contribution with increasing visual-tilt amplitude. However, subjects with PD do not decrease their reliance on proprioception as much as age-matched controls for small increases in surface-stimulus amplitudes. Levodopa medication did not affect sensory re-weighting behaviors for postural control. The impairment in PD subject’s ability to respond differently to small changes in surface rotation amplitudes is consistent with an increased threshold for perceiving proprioceptive signals, which may result from decreased signal-to-noise in the dopaminergic pathways associated with sensory processing and/or sensory integration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Balance
  • Basal ganglia
  • Computational model
  • Feedback
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sensory integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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