Does the clock tick slower or faster in Parkinson's disease? - Insights gained from the synchronized tapping task

Shin Ichi Tokushige, Yasuo Terao, Shunichi Matsuda, Toshiaki Furubayashi, Takuya Sasaki, Satomi Inomata-Terada, Akihiro Yugeta, Masashi Hamada, Shoji Tsuji, Yoshikazu Ugawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The rhythm of the internal clock is considered to be determined by the basal ganglia, with some studies suggesting slower internal clock in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, patients may also show motor hastening when they walk (festination) or are engaged in repetitive tapping, indicating faster ticking of the internal clock. Is the internal clock slower or faster in PD? The purpose of this study was to answer this question, i.e., how fast and slow a rhythm they can synchronize with, especially with reference to the limit of sensorimotor synchronization or temporal integration, representing the threshold of slower pace they can entrain into their motor actions, which is known to lie between 2 and 3 s in normal subjects but not yet studied in PD. We employed a synchronized tapping task that required subjects to tap the key in synchrony with repetitive tones at fixed interstimulus intervals (ISI) between 200 and 4800 ms. Twenty normal subjects and sixteen PD patients were enrolled, who were classified into early and advanced PD groups by UPDRS-III (early: 15 or less, advanced: more than 15). The ISI at which the response changes from synchronizing with the tones to lagging behind them was considered to be the limit of temporal integration. Early PD patients responded ahead of the tones (negative asynchrony), which became more apparent with repeated tapping. This suggested "faster" ticking clock even in the presence of the pacing tones. In normal subjects, the limit of temporal integration was around 2-3 s: below this, subjects could synchronize with the tones, while above it they had difficulty in synchronization. In early PD patients, the limit of temporal integration was significantly longer than in normal subjects, pointing to their enhanced ability to synchronize also with slower paces of tones, but advanced PD patients had significantly shortened limits, suggesting that advanced patients lost this ability. In conclusion, the limit of temporal integration is initially longer but gets shorter as the disease progresses. It can be explained by the hastening of the internal clock at the earlier stages of PD, followed by the loss of temporal integration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1178
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 11
Externally publishedYes


  • Basal ganglia
  • Internal clock
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Synchronized tapping
  • Temporal integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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