Scientists Zero in on Brain Area Linked to 'Parkinson's Gait'

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,"

3 Replies

  • I don't doubt the results of this study, but I feel they have come to the wrong conclusion with the results. I think what is happening here is when you a doing a cognitive exercise when walking your brain is focused on the exercise and the true automotive action of the brain takes over the walking. When you are not focused on thoughts or mental exercise you are focusing on the act of walking and your conscious brain is taking a large roll in the walking process thus better results. I don't think the mental exercise causes any walking difficulties but allows the true problem to show through.

  • Hi RoyProp. I have been preaching this for the past 16 years, but not many people were willing to listen. But you have missed something here: People without Pd do not have a problem thnking of other things, while they are walking! Then why should people with Pd have a problem?

    The answer to that question is that, in my humble opinion, Pd only affects movements we do subconsciously!

    In other words, bringing food to our mouths, writing, walking, knitting, cleaning our teath and everything else we do without consciously having to think about how we are doing them. I know there is no different part of the brain handling things we do subconsciously but there is some part of the brain cells maybe that handle the subconscious activities

    Perhaps more money should be spent on investigating the effects of exercise on the progression of Pd than on useless palliative medication!


  • I noticed when the neuro asked me to move/lift my leg, I had a strained expression on my face, I had to exert all my will-power to perform this task.

    good news, shortly thereafter.....I was able to touch my chin with my knee....I lost the ball-and-chain! my speech improved and is holding.

    do you think it was the straining that reversed this thing for me? I went for a jog thereafter...still tire quickly.

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