npj Parkinson's Disease volume 9, Article number: 3 (2023)

Combined EEG and immersive virtual reality unveil dopaminergic modulation of error monitoring in Parkinson’s Disease

Detecting errors in your own and others’ actions is associated with discrepancies between intended and expected outcomes. The processing of salient events is associated with dopamine release, the balance of which is altered in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Errors in observed actions trigger various electrocortical indices (e.g. mid-frontal theta, error-related delta, and error positivity [oPe]). However, the impact of dopamine depletion to observed errors in the same individual remains unclear. Healthy controls (HCs) and PD patients observed ecological reach-to-grasp-a-glass actions performed by a virtual arm from a first-person perspective. PD patients were tested under their dopaminergic medication (on-condition) and after dopaminergic withdrawal (off-condition). Analyses of oPe, delta, and theta-power increases indicate that while the formers were elicited after incorrect vs. correct actions in all groups, the latter were observed in on-condition but altered in off-condition PD. Therefore, different EEG error signatures may index the activity of distinct mechanisms, and error-related theta power is selectively modulated by dopamine depletion. Our findings may facilitate discovering dopamine-related biomarkers for error-monitoring dysfunctions that may have crucial theoretical and clinical implications.

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