J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 82:1033-1037 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2010.232678
  • Research paper

Dementia in Parkinson's disease: a 20-year neuropsychological study (Sydney Multicentre Study)

  1. G M Halliday1
  1. 1Neuroscience Research Australia and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Glenda Halliday, Neuroscience Research Australia, Randwick, Sydney NSW 2031, Australia; g.halliday{at}
  • Received 19 October 2010
  • Revised 31 December 2010
  • Accepted 19 January 2011
  • Published Online First 18 February 2011


Objective To determine whether neuropsychological measures differ between patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) who acquire dementia within 10 years of disease onset versus those who acquire dementia later in the disease course, using data from the longitudinal Sydney Multicentre Study of PD.

Methods The Sydney Multicentre Study of PD is a cohort of 149 community-living de novo patients with idiopathic PD studied over a 20-year period. Detailed clinical and neuropsychological tests were administered at baseline and at 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, and the dementia status was assessed at each time point. For the present study, the pattern of longitudinal neuropsychological measures was compared between PD patients with the onset of dementia in the middle (5–10 years, mid-stage PD dementia, N=20) or late (>10 years, late-stage PD dementia, N=10) disease stages using analysis of variance and multiple linear regression modelling, and the relationship between age and dementia onset assessed using survival statistics.

Results Mid-stage PD dementia patients were differentiated from late-stage PD dementia patients by having greater deficits in vocabulary skills prior to and at dementia onset. The pattern of cognitive deficits following dementia onset are similar, and there is no difference in the age of dementia onset between the different PD groups.

Conclusions These data suggest that the evolution of dementia within PD occurs at around 70 years of age, regardless of the time of PD onset, and affects cognitive domains in a similar way, although patients with earlier-onset PD have a preserved linguistic ability prior to dementia onset.


  • Funding Funding from the Australian Brain Foundation has allowed the long-term follow-up of this cohort. GMH is funded as a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

  • Competing interests GMH received personal compensation as a speaker (Elan Pharmaceuticals San Francisco, learned societies and government agencies) and writer (Elsevier), and received financial support for research activities from Parkinson's NSW and the Australian government.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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