Pupillary response to cognitive workload during saccadic tasks in Parkinson’s disease

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HighlightsTask-evoked pupillary response was used to estimate cognitive workload.Cognitive workload was compared between controls and Parkinson’s disease patients.Cognitive workload could assess cognitive status in Parkinson’s disease.Cognitive workload could determine cognitive changes between patients and controls.Main results were found in the prosaccade task.The relationship between cognitive workload and cognitive impairments in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is currently not well known. This study compared cognitive workload during saccadic tasks between patients with PD and controls. Sixteen controls, 11 patients with no obvious cognitive impairment (PD-NCI) (MOCA score ≥ 26), and 10 PD patients with cognitive impairment (PD-CI) (MOCA score < 26) performed prosaccade and antisaccade tasks. Cognitive workload, extracted via pupil recording, and other eye metrics were compared between the three groups. PD-NCI patients exhibited greater cognitive workload than controls in the prosaccade task. PD-CI patients also showed more cognitive workload in the prosaccade task than PD-NCI patients and controls. No other differences in eye metrics were found between the three groups. Cognitive workload could be used to differentiate between different cognitive states in PD. The causal relationship between increased cognitive workload and cognitive decline in PD-NCI should be the focus of future studies.

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