Effects of verbal working memory deficits on metaphor comprehension in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Brain Lang, Volume 101, Issue 1, p.80-9 (2007)


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Comprehension, Female, Humans, Male, Memory Disorders, Metaphor, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Parkinson Disease, Speech Disorders


<p>This research studied one aspect of pragmatic language processing, the ability to understand metaphorical language, to determine whether patients with Parkinson disease (PD) are impaired for these abilities, and whether cognitive resource limitations/fronto-striatal dysfunction contributes to these deficits. Seventeen PD participants and healthy controls (HC) completed a series of neuropsychological tests and performed a metaphor comprehension task following the methods of Gernsbacher and colleagues [Gernsbacher, M. A., Keysar, B., Robertson, R. R. W., & Werner, N. K. (2001). The role of suppression and enhancement in understanding metaphors. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 433-450.] When participants in the PD group were identified as "impaired" or "unimpaired" relative to the control group on a measure of verbal working memory span, we found that only PD participants with impaired working memory were simultaneously impaired in the processing of metaphorical language. Based on our findings we argue that certain "complex" forms of language processing such as metaphor interpretation are highly dependent on intact fronto-striatal systems for working memory which are frequently, although not always, compromised during the early course of PD.</p>

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