Objective: The aim of the current study was to clarify the nature and extent of impairment in time- versus event-based prospective memory in Parkinson's disease (PD). Prospective memory is thought to involve cognitive processes that are mediated by prefrontal systems and are executive in nature. Given that individuals with PD frequently show executive dysfunction, it is important to determine whether these individuals may have deficits in prospective memory that could impact daily functions, such as taking medications. Although it has been reported that individuals with PD evidence impairment in prospective memory, it is still unclear whether they show a greater deficit for time- versus event-based cues.
Method: Fifty-four individuals with PD and 34 demographically similar healthy adults were administered a standardized measure of prospective memory that allows for a direct comparison of time-based and event-based cues. In addition, participants were administered a series of standardized measures of retrospective memory and executive functions.
Results: Individuals with PD demonstrated impaired prospective memory performance compared to the healthy adults, with a greater impairment demonstrated for the time-based tasks. Time-based prospective memory performance was moderately correlated with measures of executive functioning, but only the Stroop Neuropsychological Screening Test emerged as a unique predictor in a linear regression.
Conclusions: Findings are interpreted within the context of McDaniel and Einstein's (2000) multiprocess theory to suggest that individuals with PD experience particular difficulty executing a future intention when the cue to execute the prescribed intention requires higher levels of executive control.
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