Differential vulnerability of different forms of skill learning in Parkinson’s disease

Lukács, Ágnes and Kemény, Ferenc and Demeter, Gyula and Valálik, István and Racsmány, Mihály (2014) Differential vulnerability of different forms of skill learning in Parkinson’s disease. In: Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, 15-19 November, Washington, DC.


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The striatal dopaminergic dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been associated with deficits in skill learning in a number of studies, but the results are inconclusive so far. Motor sequence learning (especially sequence-specific learning) is found to be deficient in the majority of studies using the Serial Reaction Time Task (SRTT; Siegert, Taylor, Weatherall, & Abernethy, 2006; Jackson et al., 1995; Ferraro, Balota and Connor, 1993; Pascual-Leone et al., 1993, Muslimovic et al., 2007; Gobel et al., 2013; but see Kwak et al., 2012), although results are contradictory when verbal response is required instead of button presses (Westwater et al. 1998; Smith, Siegert and McDowall 2001). While problems with motor sequences seem to be prevalent, PD patients show intact performance on Artificial Grammar Learning (AGL) tasks, suggesting that the sequencing problem may be response type- or task type-dependent (Smith, Siegert and McDowall 2001; Witt, Nühsman and Deuschl, 2002) Acquisition of nonsequential probabilistic associations also seems to be vulnerable as evidenced by impaired PD performance on a probabilistic category learning task (Knowlton, Mangels et al., 1996; Shohamy, Myers, Onlaor, & Gluck, 2004). Our aim was to explore the nature of the skill learning deficit by testing different types of skill learning (sequential versus nonsequential, motor versus verbal) in the same group of Parkinson’s patients. 14 patients with PD (mean age: 59.77 range: 45.5-74) were compared to age-matched typical adults using 1) a Serial Reaction Time Task (SRTT) testing the learning of motor sequences, 2) an Artificial Grammar Learning (AGL) task testing the extraction of regularities from auditory sequences and 3) a Weather prediction task (PCL-WP), testing probabilistic category learning in a non-sequential task. In motor sequence learning on the SRTT task, the two groups did not differ in accuracy; PD patients were generally slower, and analysis of z-transformed reaction times showed no evidence of sequence learning in PD. A deficit in artificial grammar learning was present only as a tendency in the PD group. The PD group showed evidence of learning on the PCL task, and their learning performance was not statistically different from that of the control group. These results partly support and also extend previous findings suggesting that motor skill learning is vulnerable in PD, while other forms of skill learning are less prone to impairment. Results are also in line with previous assumptions that mechanisms underlying artificial grammar learning and probabilistic categorization do not depend on the striatum (Reber & Squire, 1999; Skosnik et al., 2002).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / filozófia, pszichológia, vallás > BF Psychology / lélektan
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / filozófia, pszichológia, vallás > BF Psychology / lélektan > BF13 Memory and learning / emlékezet, tanulás
R Medicine / orvostudomány > RC Internal medicine / belgyógyászat > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry / idegkórtan, neurológia, pszichiátria
R Medicine / orvostudomány > RD Surgery / sebészet
Depositing User: Dr Gyula Demeter
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 09:12
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2015 11:53

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