Are all subcortical dementias alike? Verbal learning and memory in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease patients

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1990 Oct;12(5):729-44. doi: 10.1080/01688639008401015.


The utility of the concept of 'subcortical dementia' was investigated by comparing the verbal learning and memory abilities of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with those of Huntington's disease (HD) patients. Many similarities between the PD and HD groups emerged, including impaired immediate memory spans, inconsistency of recall across learning trials, deficient use of a semantic clustering learning strategy, elevated intrusion rates on delayed recall, impaired recognition memory performance, normal retention of information over delay periods, normal vulnerability to proactive or retroactive interference, and normal types of intrusion errors. The HD subjects, however, displayed inferior free recall, deficient improvement across learning trials, abnormal serial position recall effects, higher perseveration rates, and supranormal improvement on recognition testing compared with free recall. Implications of these results for characterizing memory deficits associated with subcortical system dysfunction are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / diagnosis
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Huntington Disease / psychology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*
  • Wechsler Scales