Journal of Neuropsychology

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Volume 7 Issue 2 (September 2013), Pages 149-334

Decreased event‐based prospective memory functioning in individuals with Parkinson's disease (pages 153-163)

The study was aimed at investigating the contribution of retrospective memory to prospective memory (PM) functioning in people with Parkinson's disease (PD). Twenty patients with PD without dementia and 20 normal controls were recruited. In the PM procedure, sequences of words were presented; in the inter‐sequence delay, participants had to repeat sequence in the same or reverse order (ongoing task). At the occurrence of a target word, participants had to press a button on the keyboard (PM response). To evaluate the contribution of retrospective memory to PM performance, we manipulated the retrospective memory load of the target words (i.e., one vs. four words). The results show that patients with PD were poorer than controls in all PM conditions (p < .01). The memory load did not modulate differentially the PM performance of individuals in the two groups. Moreover, in PD patients, the ability to retrieve the target words in the episodic memory task was associated, at a lesser extent than in healthy controls, with the ability to activate the prospective intention at the occurrence of a target word. Our findings confirm PM decline in patients with PD without dementia. This flaw cannot be entirely explained by decreased retrospective memory. Altered self‐retrieval processes might explain reduced PM performance of these individuals. This is a very relevant finding in the perspective of cognitive therapeutic intervention on PM that, in patients with PD, could be focused on mechanisms other than retrospective memory ones.

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