Parkinsonian arm movements as altered by task difficulty

P. Weiss, G. E. Stelmach, C. H. Adler, C. Waterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A discrete elbow movement to targets with different indexes of difficulty (ID) was used to determine the kinematic organization of arm movements in a young, an elderly and a Parkinson's disease (PD) group (n = 14). Target size and movement amplitude changes led to expected modifications of the kinematics in all three groups according to Fitts' law. Increased task demands by changing target size produced not only differences between the age-groups, but affected the modulation of velocity and acceleration in the parkinsonian patients differentially. For large amplitude movements, the PD patients were less able to increase velocity and acceleration magnitudes when target accuracy constraints were reduced. These findings, when taken together with the observation that speed scaling was preserved for small movement amplitudes, suggest that a reduced capability to initiate and regulate force is the cause for the observed slowness in PD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1996


  • Fitts' law
  • Force control
  • Motor programming
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Speed scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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