Rule-based category learning in patients with Parkinson's disease

Amanda Price, Elizabethtown College
J. Vincent Filoteo, VA Medical Center
W. Todd Maddox, The University of Texas at Austin


Measures of explicit rule-based category learning are commonly used in neuropsychological evaluation of individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) and the pattern of PD performance on these measures tends to be highly varied. We review the neuropsychological literature to clarify the manner in which PD affects the component processes of rule-based category learning and work to identify and resolve discrepancies within this literature. In particular, we address the manner in which PD and its common treatments affect the processes of rule generation, maintenance, shifting and selection. We then integrate the neuropsychological research with relevant neuroimaging and computational modeling evidence to clarify the neurobiological impact of PD on each process. Current evidence indicates that neurochemical changes associated with PD primarily disrupt rule shifting, and may disturb feedback-mediated learning processes that guide rule selection. Although surgical and pharmacological therapies remediate this deficit, it appears that the same treatments may contribute to impaired rule generation, maintenance and selection processes. These data emphasize the importance of distinguishing between the impact of PD and its common treatments when considering the neuropsychological profile of the disease. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.