Motor control abnormalities in Parkinson's disease

Pietro Mazzoni, Britne Shabbott, Juan Camilo Cortés

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


The primary manifestations of Parkinson's disease are abnormalities of movement, including movement slowness, difficulties with gait and balance, and tremor. We know a considerable amount about the abnormalities of neuronal and muscle activity that correlate with these symptoms. Motor symptoms can also be described in terms of motor control, a level of description that explains how movement variables, such as a limb's position and speed, are controlled and coordinated. Understanding motor symptoms as motor control abnormalities means to identify how the disease disrupts normal control processes. In the case of Parkinson's disease, movement slowness, for example, would be explained by a disruption of the control processes that determine normal movement speed. Two long-term benefits of understanding the motor control basis of motor symptoms include the future design of neural prostheses to replace the function of damaged basal ganglia circuits, and the rational design of rehabilitation strategies. This type of understanding, however, remains limited, partly because of limitations in our knowledge of normal motor control. In this article, we review the concept of motor control and describe a few motor symptoms that illustrate the challenges in understanding such symptoms as motor control abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera009282
JournalCold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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