Sensory attenuation in sport and rehabilitation: perspective from research in Parkinson's disease

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review



People with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience motor symptoms that are affected by sensory information in the environment. Sensory attenuation describes the modulation of sensory input caused by motor intent. This appears to be altered in PD and may index important sensorimotor processes underpinning PD symptoms. We review recent findings investigating sensory attenuation and reconcile seemingly disparate results with an emphasis on task-relevance in the modulation of sensory input. Sensory attenuation paradigms, across different sensory modalities, capture how two identical stimuli can elicit markedly different perceptual experiences depending on our predictions of the event, but also the context in which the event occurs. In particular, it appears as though contextual information may be used to suppress or facilitate a response to a stimulus on the basis of task-relevance. We support this viewpoint by considering the role of the basal ganglia in task-relevant sensory filtering and the use of contextual signals in complex environments to shape action and perception. This perspective highlights the dual effect of basal ganglia dysfunction in PD, whereby a reduced capacity to filter task-relevant signals harms the ability to integrate contextual cues, just when such cues are required to effectively navigate and interact with our environment. Finally, we suggest how this framework might be used to establish principles for effective rehabilitation in the treatment of PD.


Original languageEnglish
Article number580
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • sensory attenuation, Parkinson's disease, basal ganglia, motor control, rehabilitation