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Explicit and implicit learning in patients with Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease with dementia.

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the differential impairment of implicit and explicit memory systems in cortical and subcortical dementias.

BACKGROUND: Whereas verbal priming was reported to be impaired in patients with Alzheimer Disease (AD), patients with Parkinson Disease (PD) may be relatively more impaired on tasks of motor skill learning.

METHODS: We examined 15 patients with Alzheimer disease, 10 patients with Parkinson disease and dementia (PD-D), 15 patients with PD but no dementia, and 24 age-comparable normal control subjects with a neuropsychologic battery that included tests of explicit memory (Buschke Selective Reminding Test, Benton Visual Retention Test, Digits Span), and tests of implicit memory (Word-Stem Completion task and the Maze Test).

RESULTS: AD and PD-D groups showed similar deficits on all measures of explicit memory, and performed significantly worse than PD patients without dementia and normal control subjects. On the other hand, there were no significant between-group differences in any of the measures of implicit memory.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated preserved implicit learning in the context of severe explicit learning deficits in patients with dementia, but could not demonstrate a different profile of memory deficits between so-called cortical and subcortical dementias.

Source: Neuropsychiatry Neuropsychol Behav Neurol 1999 Oct;12(4):265-9

PMID: 10527111, UI: 99454235

(Department of Neuropsychiatry, Raul Carrea Institute of Neurological Research, Buenos Aires, Argentina. ses@fleni.org.ar )

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