Given that Parkinson's disease broadly affects frontostriatal circuitry, it is not surprising that the disorder is associated with a reduction of working memory. We tested whether this reduction is due to diminished storage capacity or impaired ability to exclude task-irrelevant items. Twenty-one medication-withdrawn patients and 28 age-matched control subjects performed a visuospatial memory task while their electroencephalograms were recorded. The task required them to remember the orientations of red rectangles within the half of the screen that was cued while ignoring all green rectangles. Behavioural and electroencephalogram measures indicated that patients with Parkinson's disease were impaired at filtering out distracters, and that they were able to hold fewer items in memory than control subjects. The results support recent suggestions that the basal ganglia help control access to working memory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology