• Parkinson's disease;
  • cognition;
  • dementia;
  • motor symptoms;
  • side of onset


It is well known that many patients with Parkinson's disease experience neuropsychological decline. However, the nature and extent of mental status change varies widely, with some patients showing mild or no cognitive impairments and others exhibiting frank dementia. Research has shown that several clinical disease parameters may differentially correlate with patterns of neuropsychological dysfunction. The present study examined side and type of motor symptom at disease onset and their relationship to cognition in idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD). We identified 58 patients who initially presented with one of the following symptom profiles: right-side tremor onset (RSO-T; n = 15), right-side bradykinesia/rigidity onset (n = 12), left-side tremor onset (n = 19), and left-side bradykinesia/rigidity onset (n = 12). There were no differences between groups in disease duration, overall mental status, education, or depression severity. We administered a battery of neuropsychological measures to the four PD subgroups and a group of matched control subjects (n = 40). MANCOVAs controlling for age revealed patients with RSO-T performed significantly better than the other three PD subgroups across the entire neuropsychological battery. Further, the RSO-T subgroup performed comparably to controls. In contrast, the other three PD subgroups showed widespread cognitive deficits. These findings suggest an intricate relationship between motor symptom and side of disease onset and it is the combination of these factors that may influence the disease course and extent of cognitive deterioration. Furthermore, patients who develop tremor on the right side of their body represent a distinct subgroup of PD patients who exhibit relative sparing of cognitive function. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society