PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Geriatrics - Mathematics - Mental Health - Neurological Disorders - Neuroscience

Interactive Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation Reinstates Natural 1/f Timing in Gait of Parkinson's Patients
Published: Friday, March 02, 2012
Author: Michael J. Hove et al.

by Michael J. Hove, Kazuki Suzuki, Hirotaka Uchitomi, Satoshi Orimo, Yoshihiro Miyake

Parkinson's disease (PD) and basal ganglia dysfunction impair movement timing, which leads to gait instability and falls. Parkinsonian gait consists of random, disconnected stride times—rather than the 1/f structure observed in healthy gait—and this randomness of stride times (low fractal scaling) predicts falling. Walking with fixed-tempo Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) can improve many aspects of gait timing; however, it lowers fractal scaling (away from healthy 1/f structure) and requires attention. Here we show that interactive rhythmic auditory stimulation reestablishes healthy gait dynamics in PD patients. In the experiment, PD patients and healthy participants walked with a) no auditory stimulation, b) fixed-tempo RAS, and c) interactive rhythmic auditory stimulation. The interactive system used foot sensors and nonlinear oscillators to track and mutually entrain with the human's step timing. Patients consistently synchronized with the interactive system, their fractal scaling returned to levels of healthy participants, and their gait felt more stable to them. Patients and healthy participants rarely synchronized with fixed-tempo RAS, and when they did synchronize their fractal scaling declined from healthy 1/f levels. Five minutes after removing the interactive rhythmic stimulation, the PD patients' gait retained high fractal scaling, suggesting that the interaction stabilized the internal rhythm generating system and reintegrated timing networks. The experiment demonstrates that complex interaction is important in the (re)emergence of 1/f structure in human behavior and that interactive rhythmic auditory stimulation is a promising therapeutic tool for improving gait of PD patients.