Movement speed-accuracy trade-off in Parkinson's disease

  • Fernandez Laure
  • Huys Raoul
  • Issartel Johann
  • Azulay Jean-Philippe
  • Eusebio Alexandre

  • Rhythmicity
  • Goal-directed movement
  • Speed-accuracy trade-off
  • Dopamine
  • Parkinson’s disease


Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) often have difficulties generating rhythmic movements, and also difficulties on movement adjustments to accuracy constraints. In the reciprocal aiming task, maintaining a high accuracy comes with the cost of diminished movement speed, whereas increasing movement speed disrupts end-point accuracy, a phenomenon well known as the speed-accuracy trade-off. The aim of this study was to examine how PD impacts speed-accuracy trade-off during rhythmic aiming movements by studying the structural kinematic movement organization and to determine the influence of dopamine replacement therapy on continuous movement speed and accuracy. Eighteen patients with advanced idiopathic Parkinson's disease performed a reciprocal aiming task, where the difficulty of the task was manipulated through target width. All patients were tested in two different sessions: ON-medication and OFF-medication state. A control group composed of healthy age-matched participants was also included in the study. The following variables were used for the analyses: Movement time, Error rate, effective target width, and Performance Index. Percentage of acceleration time and percentage of non-linearity were completed with kinematics patterns description using Rayleigh-Duffing model. Both groups traded off speed against accuracy as the constraints pertaining to the latter increased. The trade-off was more pronounced with the PD patients. Dopamine therapy allowed the PD patients to move faster, but at the cost of movement accuracy. Surprisingly, the structural kinematic organization did not differ across group nor across medication condition. These results suggest that PD patients, when involved in a reciprocal aiming task, are able to produce rhythmic movements. PD patients' overall slowing down seems to reflect a global adaptation to the disease in the absence of a structurally altered kinematic organization.