q & a

Is it true that cognition is also impaired in Parkinson’s disease, and not just movements?


Yes, it is often true. The exact prevalence of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease (PD)is estimated differently by different authors, but it is relatively common. This is not surprising for two reasons; (1) substantia nigra (SN), the nucleus most affected in PD projects into the striatum which plays a role in the so-called “executive functions,” and (b) more recent research has shown that the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is also affected in PD.Since VTA projects directly into the frontal lobes, the functions ofthe frontal lobes, which are central to “executive functions,”may also be compromised. Both SN and VTA are sources of dopamine projections to their respective targets.

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