• Open Access

The source of the memory impairment in Parkinson's disease: Acquisition versus retrieval

Authors

  • Nancy D. Chiaravalloti PhD,

    1. Kessler Foundation, West Orange, New Jersey, USA
    2. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, USA
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  • Naroa Ibarretxe-Bilbao PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neuropsychology of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders Research Team, Department of Methods and Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
    • Correspondence to: Dra. Naroa Ibarretxe-Bilbao, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto, Universidades, 24, E-48007 Bilbao, Spain; naroa.ibarretxe@deusto.es

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  • John DeLuca PhD,

    1. Kessler Foundation, West Orange, New Jersey, USA
    2. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, USA
    3. Department of Neurology and Neurosciences, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, USA
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  • Olga Rusu MSc,

    1. Neuropsychology of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders Research Team, Department of Methods and Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
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  • Javier Pena PhD,

    1. Neuropsychology of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders Research Team, Department of Methods and Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
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  • Inés García-Gorostiaga MD,

    1. Department of Neurology, Galdakao Hospital, Galdakao, Spain
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  • Natalia Ojeda PhD

    1. Neuropsychology of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders Research Team, Department of Methods and Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
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  • Funding agencies: This study was supported by the Health Department of Basque Government (2011111117; to N.I.B) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (PSI2012-32441; to N.I.B.).

  • Relevant conflicts of interest/financial disclosures: Nothing to report.

  • Full financial disclosures and author roles may be found in the online version of this article.

ABSTRACT

Memory deficits are common in persons with Parkinson's disease (PD) even without the presence of a frank dementia. These memory deficits have traditionally been attributed to inability of patients to retrieve information from long-term memory, referred to as the “retrieval failure hypothesis.” However, some studies additionally document problems in recognition memory, noted to be inconsistent with the retrieval failure hypothesis. Given the neuroanatomical abnormalities observed in the hippocampus of PD patients and the role of the hippocampus in learning new information, the current study was designed to specifically examine learning abilities in a nondemented PD sample through the application of a learning paradigm, the Open Trial Selective Reminding Test. We examined 27 patients with PD without dementia and 27 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy controls (HCs) with a neuropsychological test battery designed to assess new learning and memory. Results indicated a significant difference between the groups in terms of their ability to learn a list of 10 semantically related words. However, once the groups were equated on learning abilities, no significant difference was noted between the PD and HC participants in recall or recognition of the newly learned material. The memory deficit observed in nondemented PD patients is thus largely the result of a deficit in learning new information. This finding should be used to guide treatment for memory deficits in persons with PD, and future research should seek to identify novel means of improving new learning in this population. © 2014 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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