Eighteen patients suffering from Parkinson's disease and nineteen control subjects, who were matched for age and intelligence, were compared in tests measuring "shifting aptitude" at cognitive and motor levels (word production, sorting blocks or animals, and finger pushing sequences). It was found that Parkinson patients produced fewer different names of animals and professions in one minute than control subjects, needed more trials for detecting a shift in a sorting criterion, and produced fewer finger responses in a change of pushing sequence than control subjects. These results are interpreted as reflecting a central programming deficit that manifests itself in verbal, figural and motor modalities, that is, a diminished "shifting aptitude" characteristic of patients with dysfunctioning basal ganglia. The results are discussed in relation to changes of behaviour organisations in animals with dysfunctioning basal ganglia.
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