Effects of Parkinson's Disease on Optic Flow Perception for Heading Direction During Navigation

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Visuoperceptual disorders have been identified in individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) and may affect the perception of optic flow for heading direction during navigation. Studies in healthy subjects have confirmed that heading direction can be determined by equalizing the optic flow speed (OS) between visual fields. The present study investigated the effects of PD on the use of optic flow for heading direction, walking parameters, and interlimb coordination during navigation, examining the contributions of OS and spatial frequency (dot density). Twelve individuals with PD without dementia, 18 age-matched normal control adults (NC), and 23 young control adults (YC) walked through a virtual hallway at about 0.8 m/s. The hallway was created by random dots on side walls. Three levels of OS (0.8, 1.2, and 1.8 m/s) and dot density (1, 2, and 3 dots/m(2)) were presented on one wall while on the other wall, OS and dot density were fixed at 0.8 m/s and 3 dots/m(2), respectively. Three-dimensional kinematic data were collected, and lateral drift, walking speed, stride frequency and length, and frequency, and phase relations between arms and legs were calculated. A significant linear effect was observed on lateral drift to the wall with lower OS for YC and NC, but not for PD. Compared to YC and NC, PD veered more to the left under OS and dot density conditions. The results suggest that healthy adults perceive optic flow for heading direction. Heading direction in PD may be more affected by the asymmetry of dopamine levels between the hemispheres and by motor lateralization as indexed by handedness.

Original Citation

Lin, C-C., Wagenaar, R.C., Young, D., Saltzman, E.L., Ren, X., Neargarder, S., Cronin-Golomb, A. (2014). Effects of Parkinson's Disease on Optic Flow Perception for Heading Direction During Navigation. Experimental Brain Research, 232(4), 1343-1355. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-014-3853-9