Explicit category learning in Parkinson's disease: Deficits related to impaired rule generation and selection processes

Amanda L. Price, The University of New Mexico


The present study examined the source of explicit category learning deficits previously noted in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Task stimuli consisted of 4 binary-valued cues that together determined category assignment, although some cues were more important for the categorization decision. Participants verbalized the hypotheses being tested to provide several measures of the hypothesis testing. Analyses of these verbal protocols indicated that PD patients were impaired on rule generation and selection but not rule shifting. Patients had particular difficulty noting the relative importance of the cues. Specific aspects of performance were differently correlated with neuropsychological measures of working memory and hypothesis testing ability. Together, the results suggest that the cognitive processes required for explicit category learning are mediated by partially distinct neural mechanisms. Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association.