To identify the cognitive characteristics predictive of incident dementia in Parkinson's disease (PD), we examined the baseline neuropsychological profiles of 18 initially non-demented patients with PD who met diagnostic criteria for dementia (PDD) at one-year follow-up. PDD participants' baseline neuropsychological test scores were compared to the baseline performance of 18 patients with PD who did not meet criteria for dementia at one-year follow-up (PDND) and 18 normal controls (NC). The three groups were matched on baseline demographic and disease variables. Relative to the PDND group, the incident PDD participants demonstrated significantly poorer performance on digits backward (Wechsler Memory Scale–Revised), word list learning and recognition (California Verbal Learning Test), and perseverative errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. Each of these baseline neuropsychological variables exhibited adequate diagnostic classification accuracy in predicting PDD and PDND group membership at follow-up. These results suggest that subtle frontal/executive dysfunction is evident during the immediate PDD prodrome and may be of prognostic value in identifying PD patients at risk for dementia. Accordingly, neuropsychological evaluation may facilitate early identification of PDD and thereby inform appropriate dispositional planning. (JINS, 2003, 9, 17–24.)
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