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Abstract/ Summary

Patients with basal ganglia (BG) pathology are consistently found to be impaired on rule-based category learning tasks in which learning is thought to depend upon the use of an explicit, hypothesis-guided strategy. The factors that influence this impairment remain unclear. Moreover, it remains unknown if the impairments observed in patients with degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) are also observed in those with focal BG lesions. In the present study, we tested patients with either focal BG lesions or PD on two categorization tasks that varied in terms of their demands on selective attention and working memory. Individuals with focal BG lesions were impaired on the task in which working memory demand was high and performed similarly to healthy controls on the task in which selective-attention demand was high. In contrast, individuals with PD were impaired on both tasks, and accuracy rates did not differ between on and off medication states for a subset of patients who were also tested after abstaining from dopaminergic medication. Quantitative, model-based analyses attributed the performance deficit for both groups in the task with high working memory demand to the utilization of suboptimal strategies, whereas the PD-specific impairment on the task with high selective-attention demand was driven by the inconsistent use of an optimal strategy. These data suggest that the demands on selective attention and working memory affect the presence of impairment in patients with focal BG lesions and the nature of the impairment in patients with PD.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Ell, S.W., Weinstein, A., & Ivry, R.B. (2010). Rule-based categorization deficits in focal basal ganglia lesion and Parkinson’s disease patients. Neuropsychologia, 48 (2010), 2974–2986. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.06.006

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(c) Elsevier Inc.


doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.06.006


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