Effects of a Cycling Dual Task on Emotional Word Choice in Parkinson’s Disease

Congratulations to Drs Okun & Hass on the publication of “Effects of a Cycling Dual Task on Emotional Word Choice in Parkinson’s Disease.”  This article was published in the May issue of the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.



Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) demonstrate language- and emotion-related impairments; however, emotional language production has received little attention within the literature despite the fact that deficits could significantly impact one’s daily interactions with loved ones and others. Multitasking (i.e., dual tasking), specifically while completing language tasks, is a common everyday occurrence and typically impacts performance on 1 or both tasks. This study compared emotional word use during discourse production in individuals with PD and healthy older adults (HOAs) under single- and dual-task conditions.


Participants completed a discourse task while sitting in a quiet room and while stationary cycling. Discourse output was analyzed along several emotional and intellectual language dimensions obtained from the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program (Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007).


Groups did not differ on any outcome measure in the single-task condition. However, HOAs produced a higher percentage of words associated with affective processes and positive emotion while completing the dual-task condition, whereas the PD group exhibited a decrease in production of these words. Compared to the single-task condition, during cycling, individuals with PD also produced a lower percentage of inhibition-related words.


These results suggest that cycling, like other types of exercise, improves mood as manifested in discourse word choice in HOAs; however, it may lead to reduced use of emotional words in individuals with PD. Expressing emotion may also be more difficult in those with PD than in HOAs and, therefore, easily disrupted in distracting circumstances.