Borrowing from models of motor control to translate cognitive processes: Evidence for hypokinetic-hyperkinetic linguistic homologues?

Brooke M. Whelan*, Bruce E. Murdoch, Deborah G. Theodoros, Peter A. Silburn, Bruce Hall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In relation to motor control, the basal ganglia have been implicated in both the scaling and focusing of movement. Hypokinetic and hyperkinetic movement disorders manifest as a consequence of overshooting and undershooting GPi (globus pallidus internus) activity thresholds, respectively. Recently, models of motor control have been borrowed to translate cognitive processes relating to the overshooting and undershooting of GPi activity, including attention and executive function. Linguistic correlates, however, are yet to be extrapolated in sufficient detail. The aims of the present investigation were to: (1) characterise cognitive-linguistic processes within hypokinetic and hyperkinetic neural systems, as defined by motor disturbances; (2) investigate the impact of surgically-induced GPi lesions upon language abilities. Two Parkinsonian cases with opposing motor symptoms (akinetic versus dystonic/dyskinetic) served as experimental subjects in this research. Assessments were conducted both prior to as well as 3 and 12 months following bilateral posteroventral pallidotomy (PVP). Reliable changes in performance (i.e. both improvements and decrements) were typically restricted to tasks demanding complex linguistic operations across subjects. Hyperkinetic motor symptoms were associated with an initial overall improvement in complex language function as a consequence of bilateral PVP, which diminished over time, suggesting a decrescendo effect relative to surgical beneficence. In contrast, hypokinetic symptoms were associated with a more stable longitudinal linguistic profile, albeit defined by higher proportions of reliable decline versus improvement in postoperative assessment scores. The above findings endorsed the integration of the GPi within cognitive mechanisms involved in the arbitration of complex language functions. In relation to models of motor control, 'focusing' was postulated to represent the neural processes underpinning lexical-semantic manipulation, and 'scaling' the potential allocation of cognitive resources during the mediation of high-level linguistic tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-381
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005
Externally publishedYes


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