Does this report suggest we should not think or have any brain activity while walking?
Discovery could lead to new treatments for the disease's jerky, unbalanced walking, researchers say.
Parkinson's patients were asked by the researchers to walk and do a mental task -- such as naming fruits or doing subtraction -- at the same time. As they did, their walking was slower and less stable than when they walked without doing a mental task.
This suggests that cognitive resources in use while they walk play a role in walking difficulties experienced by Parkinson's patients, according to the researchers.
Brain scans of Parkinson's patients showed that the prefrontal cortex was activated even when patients just imagined they were walking.
"The overactivation of the prefrontal cortex has a two-pronged effect in Parkinson's patients. Because the prefrontal cortex is 'saturated,' it is unable to perform other tasks, impairing gait and creating cognitive deficits. The debilitation is twofold,"