Brain activity response to visual cues for gait impairment in Parkinson’s disease: an EEG study

Sam Stuart*, Johanna Wagner, Scott Makeig, Martina Mancini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Gait impairments are common in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and increase falls risk. Visual cues can improve gait in PD, particularly freezing of gait (FOG), but mechanisms involved in visual cue response are unknown. This study aimed to examine brain activity in response to visual cues in people with PD who do (PD+FOG) and don’t report FOG (PD-FOG), and explore relationships between attention, brain activity and gait.
Methods: Mobile EEG measured brain activity during gait in 20 healthy older adults and 43 PD participants (n=22 PD+FOG, n=21 PD-FOG). Participants walked for two-minutes with and without visual cues (transverse lines to step over). We report power spectral density (PSD) in Delta (1–4Hz), Theta (4–7Hz), Alpha (8–12Hz), Beta (14–24Hz) and Gamma (30–50Hz) bands within clusters of similarly brain localized independent component sources.
Results: PSDs within the parietal and occipital lobes were altered when walking with visual cues in PD, particularly in PD+FOG. Between group, differences suggested that parietal sources in PD, particularly with PD+FOG, had larger activity compared to healthy older adults when walking. Within group, visual cues altered brain activity in PD, particularly in PD+FOG, within visual processing brain regions. In PD participants, brain activity differences with cues correlated with gait improvements, and in PD+FOG those with worse attention required more visual attentional processing (reduced alpha PSD) in the occipital lobe.
Conclusions: Visual cues improve gait and influence brain activity during walking in PD, particularly in PD+FOG. Findings may allow development of more effective therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154596832110413
Pages (from-to)996-1009
Number of pages14
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number11
Early online date10 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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