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Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience



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Abstract/ Summary

The impact of Parkinson’s disease (PD) on rule-guided behavior has received considerable attention in cognitive neuroscience. The majority of research has used PD as a model of dysfunction in fronto-striatal networks, but very few attempts have been made to investigate the possibility of adapting common experimental techniques in an effort to identify the conditions that are most likely to facilitate successful performance. The present study investigated a targeted training paradigm designed to facilitate rule learning and application using rule-based categorization as a model task. Participants received targeted training in which there was no selective-attention demand (i.e., stimuli varied along a single, relevant dimension) or non-targeted training in which there was selective-attention demand (i.e., stimuli varied along a relevant dimension as well as an irrelevant dimension). Following training, all participants were tested on a rule-based task with selective-attention demand. During the test phase, PD patients who received targeted training performed similarly to control participants and outperformed patients who did not receive targeted training. As a preliminary test of the generalizability of the benefit of targeted training, a subset of the PD patients were tested on the Wisconsin card sorting task (WCST). PD patients who received targeted training outperformed PD patients who did not receive targeted training on several WCST performance measures. These data further characterize the contribution of fronto-striatal circuitry to rule-guided behavior. Importantly, these data also suggest that PD patient impairment, on selective-attention-demanding tasks of rule-guided behavior, is not inevitable and highlight the potential benefit of targeted training.

Publisher Statement

(c) Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013. The final publication is available at Springer via doi: 10.3758/s13415-013-0176-4.




post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)