To perform simple everyday tasks, we use visual feedback from our external environment to generate and guide movements. However, tasks like reaching for a cup may become extremely difficult in movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), and it is unknown whether PD patients use visual information to compensate for motor deficiencies. We tested adaptation to changes in visual feedback of the hand in three subject groups, PD patients on daily levodopa (L-dopa) therapy (PD ON), PD patients off L-dopa (PD OFF), and age-matched control subjects, to determine the effects of PD on the visual control of movement. Subjects were tested on two classes of visual perturbations, one that altered visual direction of movement and one that altered visual extent of movement, allowing us to test adaptive sensitivity to changes in both movement direction (visual rotations) and extent (visual gain). The PD OFF group displayed more complete adaptation to visuomotor rotations compared with control subjects but initial, transient difficulty with adaptation to visual gain perturbations. The PD ON group displayed feedback control more sensitive to visual error compared with control subjects but compared with the PD OFF group had mild impairments during adaptation to changes in visual extent. We conclude that PD subjects can adapt to changes in visual information but that L-dopa may impair visual-based motor adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2675-2687
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014


  • Motor control
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaching
  • Visuomotor adaptation


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