Severity‐Dependent Effects of Parkinson’s Disease on Perception of Visual and Vestibular Heading




Parkinson’s disease (PD) commonly affects visuospatial navigation causing postural instability and falls. Our overarching aim was to examine the visual and vestibular systems governing visuospatial navigation in PD. We hypothesize that PD affects vestibular and visual motion perception but to a different extent. The effects of PD on motion perception are dependent on the severity of the disease.


The two‐alternative‐forced‐choice task objectively measured the motion perception during two experiments. One experiment examined the vestibular motion perception with en bloc movement of the platform. The second experiment tested the visual motion perception using an immersive virtual reality goggle.


We found that accuracy, threshold, and precision of vestibular perception were more impaired in advanced‐PD patients compared to those with a mild form of the disease. The parameters also correlated with the disease duration, overall axial motor impairment causing postural instability and falls, and subjective rating of the balance function. Such changes were present but less severe in visual motion perception.


We conclude that PD affects motion perception in the visual and vestibular domains in a severity‐dependent manner. The impact of the disease in the vestibular domain is more severe compared to the visual domain. © 2020 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society


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