Mid-frontal theta activity is diminished during cognitive control in Parkinson’s disease

Publication date: August 2018
Source:Neuropsychologia, Volume 117
Author(s): Arun Singh, Sarah Pirio Richardson, Nandakumar Narayanan, James F. Cavanagh
Mid-frontal theta activity underlies cognitive control. These 4–8 Hz rhythms are modulated by cortical dopamine and can be abnormal in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Here, we investigated mid-frontal theta deficits in PD patients during a task explicitly involving cognitive control. We collected scalp EEG from high-performing PD patients and demographically matched controls during performance of a modified Simon reaction-time task. This task involves cognitive control to adjudicate response conflict and error-related adjustments. Task performance of PD patients was indistinguishable from controls, but PD patients had less mid-frontal theta modulations around cues and responses. Critically, PD patients had attenuated mid-frontal theta activity specifically associated with response conflict and post-error processing. These signals were unaffected by medication or motor scores. Post-error mid-frontal theta activity was correlated with disease duration. Classification of control vs. PD from these data resulted in a specificity of 69% and a sensitivity of 72%. These findings help define the scope of mid-frontal theta aberrations during cognitive control in PD, and may provide insight into the nature of PD-related cognitive dysfunction.