Background: There is some evidence that patients with Parkinson's disease may impaired in prospective memory performance ( planning and self initiated realisation of delayed intentions). Little is known about the effect of the disease on distinct phases of prospective memory and the potential mechanisms underlying these effects.
Objective: To investigate intention formation, intention retention, intention initiation, and intention execution of patients with Parkinson's disease and test for the mediating influence of working memory, inhibition, short term retrospective memory, and divided attention.
Methods: 16 patients with Parkinson's disease and 16 age and education matched normal controls were given a complex event based prospective memory task which differentiates four phases of prospective remembering. In addition, participants completed tasks assessing potential cognitive mediators.
Results: On the prospective remembering task, Parkinson patients were impaired in the intention formation phase and showed a trend towards impairment in the intention initiation. In contrast, there were no impairments of retrospective intention retention or the fidelity with which the patients executed their previously developed plan. The group effects were related to interindividual differences in working memory span.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the planning phase of prospective remembering is specifically impaired in Parkinson's disease, and that the impairment is related to working memory deficit. In contrast, even when complex intentions have to be remembered, the retrospective storage of intentions to be performed is not impaired.
- prospective memory impairment
- working memory
- cognitive deficits