Motor Control and Proprioception in Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that affects between 500,000 - 1 million Americans every year and is associated with the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain (substantia nigra). The focus of our laboratory is to examine the behavioral and sensory consequences of the disease, as well as trying to quantify therapeutic success of behavioral therapies.

Parkinson's disease has traditionally been considered to be a movement disorder. Yet, more and more research has documented that these patients may also have perceptual deficits, although for most patients the motor deficits are the most debilitating aspect of the disease. In the last years we have been very successful in quantifying these perceptual deficits in PD.

It seems clear today that Parkinson's disease leads to deficits in proprioception. Proprioception is referred to as the perception of the body and its parts in space and relative to each other.

Below some projects are featured that investigated psychophysical thresholds for proprioception in this patient population. A review paper summarizing the current knowledge appeared in 2009 in the Journal of Motor Behavior. For a reprint contact Dr. Konczak at

Limb Position Sense in Patients with Parkinson's Disease

Perception of Passive Motion in Patients with Parkinson's Disease

Constraint-induced Movement Therapy in Parkinson's Disease

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Last modified in August, 2011