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Research paper
Cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease: the impact of the motor phenotype on cognition


Objectives Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and is further associated with progressive cognitive decline. In respect to motor phenotype, there is some evidence that akinetic-rigid PD is associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline in general and a greater risk of developing dementia.

The objective of this study was to examine cognitive profiles among patients with PD by motor phenotypes and its relation to cognitive function.

Methods Demographic, clinical and neuropsychological cross-sectional baseline data of the DEMPARK/LANDSCAPE study, a multicentre longitudinal cohort study of 538 patients with PD were analysed, stratified by motor phenotype and cognitive syndrome. Analyses were performed for all patients and for each diagnostic group separately, controlling for age, gender, education and disease duration.

Results Compared with the tremor-dominant phenotype, akinetic-rigid patients performed worse in executive functions such as working memory (Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised backward; p=0.012), formal-lexical word fluency (p=0.043), card sorting (p=0.006), attention (Trail Making Test version A; p=0.024) and visuospatial abilities (Leistungsprüfungssystem test 9; p=0.006). Akinetic-rigid neuropsychological test scores for the executive and attentive domain correlated negatively with non-tremor motor scores. Covariate-adjusted binary logistic regression analyses showed significant odds for PD-mild cognitive impairment for not-determined as compared with tremor-dominant (OR=3.198) and akinetic-rigid PD (OR=2.059). The odds for PD-dementia were significant for akinetic-rigid as compared with tremor-dominant phenotype (OR=8.314).

Conclusion The three motor phenotypes of PD differ in cognitive performance, showing that cognitive deficits seem to be less severe in tremor-dominant PD. While these data are cross-sectional, longitudinal data are needed to shed more light on these differential findings.

  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • tremor-dominant
  • akinetic-rigid
  • cognitive profiles
  • cross-sectional

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