PARS Study Finds Cognitive Impairment in Earliest Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

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PARS Study Finds Cognitive Impairment in Earliest Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

SAN DIEGO – Cognitive impairment may be one of the earliest signs of Parkinson’s disease (PD), according to a study released today at the 19th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Daniel Weintraub and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, developed the Parkinson Associated Risk Syndrome (PARS) study to identify a large-scale cohort of individuals ‘at risk’ for PD. This study evaluated a cohort of healthy ‘at risk’ subjects over the age of 50, those with loss of smell (hyposmia) and dopamine transporter (DAT) reduction. A neuropsychological test battery was administered to test subjects, and normative scores created for global cognition, memory, executive function/working memory, processing speed/attention, visuospatial abilities and language domains. Other non-motor symptoms were assessed through patient questionnaires as well.

The study found that subjects had lower mean scores for global cognition, executive function/working memory and memory compared with all other participants combined, and therefore demonstrates that changes in global cognitive abilities are present in the very early stages of PD.
Weintraub states, “Identifying the pre-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease is important to predict those people in the general population who are at increased risk of developing the disease. This is one of the first studies to suggest that subtle cognitive impairments, in a range of cognitive domains, may be part of the pre-motor syndrome in Parkinson's disease.” He adds, “It also suggests that very early dopamine deficits, or deficits in non-dopamine neurotransmitters, are associated with subtle cognitive deficits at a very early disease stage. These findings will help in devising screening strategies for Parkinson's disease and inform the design of disease-modifying studies.”

About the 19th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders:
Meeting attendees are gathered to learn the latest research findings and state-of-the-art treatment options in Movement Disorders, including Parkinson's disease. Over 3,500 physicians and medical professionals from more than 80 countries will be able to view over 1,500 scientific abstracts submitted by clinicians from around the world.

About the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society:
The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international society of over 5,000 clinicians, scientists, and other healthcare professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. For more information about MDS, visit