BACKGROUND: Prepulse inhibition is a measure of sensorimotor gating, which reflects the ability to filter or 'gate' irrelevant information. Prepulse inhibition is dramatically altered in basal ganglia disorders associated with dysfunction in the midbrain dopaminergic system, and corresponding cognitive information processing deficits such as slowed processing speed. Parkinson's disease is characterised by the degeneration of the midbrain dopaminergic system and is associated with cognitive dysfunction, including slowed information processing. Although sensorimotor processes in Parkinson's disease have been extensively studied in relation to motor function, less is known about the potential role of sensorimotor processes in cognitive function. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the relationship between prepulse inhibition, cognition and nigrostriatal dysfunction, as measured with 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT scanning, in patients with Parkinson's disease. METHODS: 38 Parkinson patients were assessed with prepulse inhibition, neuropsychological tests, and neurological investigation. A subset of these patients underwent 123I-FP-CIT-SPECT scanning. RESULTS: Patients with a higher level of prepulse inhibition performed better on cognitive measures tapping attention and processing speed than patients with a lower level of prepulse inhibition. Furthermore, there were significant correlations between prepulse inhibition and 123I-FP-CIT uptake in the striatum. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the level of prepulse inhibition is related to the efficiency of information processing in Parkinson's disease, and to the density of dopamine transporters in the striatum.
Journal of Parkinson's Disease, 2014, Vol 4, Issue 1, p. 77-87