Gaze-speech coordination during social interaction in Parkinson's disease

Timothy L Hodgson*, F. Hermens, Gemma Ezard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) can affect social interaction and communication as well as motor and cognitive processes. Speech is affected in PD, as is the control of voluntary eye movements which are thought to play an important role in “turn taking” in conversation. Aims: This study aimed to measure eye movements during spoken conversation in PD to assess whether differences in patterns of eye gaze are linked to disrupted turn taking and impaired communication efficiency. Methods and Procedure: Eleven participants with mild PD and 14 controls completed a 2-player guessing game. During each 3 minute game turn, one of the players had to guess the names of as many objects as possible based only on the other player’s description. Eye movements were recorded simultaneously in both participants using mobile eye trackers along with speech onset and offset times.
Outcomes and Results: When people with PD played the role of describer, the other player guessed less objects compared to when controls described objects. When guessing objects, people with PD performed just as well as controls. Analysis of eye fixations showed that people with PD made longer periods of fixation on the other player’s face relative to controls and a lower number of such “gaze on face” periods.
Conclusions and Implications: A combination of oculomotor, cognitive and speech abnormalities may disrupt communication in PD. Better public awareness of oculomotor, speech and other deficits in the condition could improve social connectedness in people with Parkinson’s.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-727
JournalInternational Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date10 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


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