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Parkinson\'s Patients Suffer Cognitive Impairment, Study Shows

The findings published in Neuropsychologia, an international journal covering neuroscience issues, show that Parkinson's patients are better at performing automated tasks compared to people not having the disease, but face difficulty in switching from simple to more sophisticated tasks.

The discovery made by scientists at the Queen's Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Canada, is important for understanding how the illness affects the brain cognitive function. Although the disease is often regarded as a motor function disorder, with tremors, coordination problems, and difficulties in muscle movements being the most pronounced, it also affects cognitive functions, decision-making and planning being among them, as was shown in the study.

In an experiment conducted by the researchers, two groups participated—a control group and patients suffering from Parkinson. Participants were asked to watch a light the moment it appeared, and Parkinson's patients turned out more accurate in accomplishing the task. However, they felt uncomfortable and experienced difficulty in changing their behavior when they had been asked to perform the opposite.

Ian Cameron, the author of the experiment, says the finding has shown that people suffering from Parkinson's disease are likely to form an automated response. Moreover, he suggests that current medication treatment of disease symptoms associated with motor functioning could further deteriorate patients' cognitive abilities. Currently, Mr. Cameron is continuing the research in order to discover which parts of the brain might suffer adverse effected of medications currently used to mitigate disease symptoms.