The Effect of Parkinson's Disease Subgroups on Verbal and Nonverbal Fluency

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Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) leads to deficits in executive function, including verbal and nonverbal fluency, as a result of compromised frontostriatal circuits. It is unknown whether deficits in verbal and nonverbal fluency in PD are driven by certain subgroups of patients, or how strategy use may facilitate performance.

Participants: Sixty-five nondemented individuals with PD, including 36 with right-body onset (RPD; 20 with tremor as their initial symptom, 16 nontremor) and 29 with left-body onset (LPD; 14 with tremor as their initial symptom, 15 nontremor), and 52 normal control participants (NC) took part in the study.

Measurements: Verbal fluency was assessed using the FAS and Animals tests. Nonverbal fluency was assessed using the Ruff Figural Fluency Test.

Results: Both RPD and LPD were impaired in generating words and in using clustering and switching strategies on phonemic verbal fluency, whereas different patterns of impairment were found on nonverbal fluency depending on the interaction of side of onset and initial motor symptom (tremor vs. nontremor). Strategy use correlated with number of correct responses on verbal fluency in LPD, RPD, and NC. By contrast, on nonverbal fluency, strategy use correlated with correct responses for RPD and LPD, but not for NC.

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the importance of considering subgroups in PD and analyzing subcomponents of verbal and nonverbal fluency (correct responses, errors, and strategies), which may depend differently on the integrity of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex.

Original Citation

Jaywant, A., Musto, G., Neargarder, S., Stavitsky Gilbert, K., Cronin-Golomb, A. (2014). The Effect of Parkinson's Disease Subgroups on Verbal and Nonverbal Fluency. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 36(3), 278-289. DOI:10.1080/13803395.2014.889089.