Background: Increased dependence on visual cues in Parkinson’s disease (PD) can unbalance the perception-action loop, impair multisensory integration, and affect everyday function of PD patients. It is currently unknown why PD patients seem to be more reliant on their visual cues. Objectives: We hypothesized that PD patients may be overconfident in the reliability (precision) of their visual cues. In this study we tested coherent visual motion perception in PD, and probed subjective (self-reported) confidence in their visual motion perception. Methods: 20 patients with idiopathic PD, 21 healthy aged-matched controls and 20 healthy young adult participants were presented with visual stimuli of moving dots (random dot kinematograms). They were asked to report: (1) whether the aggregate motion of dots was to the left or to the right, and (2) how confident they were that their perceptual discrimination was correct. Results: Visual motion discrimination thresholds were similar (unimpaired) in PD compared to the other groups. By contrast, PD patients were significantly overconfident in their visual perceptual decisions (p=0.002 and p<0.001 vs. the age-matched and young adult groups, respectively). Conclusions: These results suggest intact visual motion perception, but overestimation of visual cue reliability, in PD. Overconfidence in visual (vs. other, e.g., somatosensory) cues could underlie accounts of increased visual dependence and impaired multisensory integration in PD, and could contribute to gait and balance impairments. Future work should investigate PD confidence in somatosensory function. A better understanding of altered sensory reliance in PD might open up new avenues to treat debilitating symptoms.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience