Neural coupling between upper and lower limb muscles in Parkinsonian gait

Joyce B Weersink, Bauke M de Jong, Natasha M Maurits*

*Corresponding author for this work

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OBJECTIVE: To explore to what extent neuronal coupling between upper and lower limb muscles during gait is preserved or affected in patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD).

METHODS: Electromyography recordings were obtained from the bilateral deltoideus anterior and bilateral rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles during overground gait in 20 healthy participants (median age 69 years) and 20 PD patients (median age 68.5 years). PD patients were able to walk independently (Hoehn and Yahr scale: Stage 2-3), had an equally distributed symptom laterality (6 left side, 7 both sides and 7 right side) and no cognitive problems or tremor dominant PD. Time-dependent directional intermuscular coherence analysis was employed to compare the neural coupling between upper and lower limb muscles between healthy participants and PD patients in three different directions: zero-lag (i.e. common driver), forward (i.e. shoulders driving the legs) and reverse component (i.e. legs driving the shoulders).

RESULTS: Compared to healthy participants, PD patients exhibited (i) reduced intermuscular zero-lag coherence in the beta/gamma frequency band during end-of-stance and (ii) enhanced forward as well as reverse directed coherence in the alpha and beta/gamma frequency bands around toe-off.

CONCLUSIONS: PD patients had a reduced common cortical drive to upper and lower limb muscles during gait, possibly contributing to disturbed interlimb coordination. Enhanced bidirectional coupling between upper and lower limb muscles on subcortical and transcortical levels in PD patients suggests a mechanism of compensation.

SIGNIFICANCE: These findings provide support for the facilitating effect of arm swing instructions in PD gait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Early online date18-Dec-2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Interlimb coupling
  • Gait
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Arm swing
  • EMG
  • Coherence analysis

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