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Front. Aging Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00266

Impaired fine motor function of the asymptomatic hand in unilateral Parkinson’s disease

 Xiaojuan Dan1, 2, Jia Liu3, Julien Doyon4, Yongtao Zhou2, Jinghong Ma2 and Piu Chan5*
  • 1Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China
  • 2Department of Neurology, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China
  • 3Department of Geriatrics, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China
  • 4Functional Neuroimaging Unit, Montreal University, Canada
  • 5Department of Anesthesiology, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China

The early detection of Parkinson’s disease (PD) still remains a challenge to date. Although studies have previously reported subtle motor function abnormalities in early PD patients, it is unclear whether such clinical signs can be better detected while patients are concurrently performing a cognitive task, and whether they can be useful in predicting patients’ clinical conversion state. Seventy-two right-handed participants (40 drug-naive patients with idiopathic unilateral PD and 32 age-matched healthy controls) were enrolled in this study. All participants were asked to perform the Purdue Pegboard test (PPT) either alone (single-task condition) or during a concurrent mental subtraction-by-3 task (dual-task condition). A 4-year telephone follow-up was later conducted to determine whether PD patients converted to bilateral signs. We found that PD patients showed a significant reduction in dexterity on the PPT compared to the controls in both single- and dual-task conditions. Yet patients’ performance in the dual-task condition revealed a greater interference effect when patients performed the task with their right hand than with their left hand. PPT also revealed reasonable discriminative ability for prediagnosing PD. However, dual-tasking did not have added value in differentiating early patients and controls. At follow-up, the baseline PPT performance of the asymptomatic hands was positively correlated with time to convert from unilaterally to bilaterally affected states (r =0.62, P = 0.031). Together, these findings suggest that PPT can serve as a useful auxiliary tool in evaluating early PD, and shed light on the neuroplasticity mechanism of fine motor deficit at this very early stage.

Keywords: Parkinson's disease, Quantitative evaluation, early diagnosis, disease progression, Dual-task effect

Received: 21 May 2019; Accepted: 13 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Dan, Liu, Doyon, Zhou, Ma and Chan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Piu Chan, Department of Anesthesiology, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100053, China,