Effects of cognitive and physical enrichment on measures of autobiographical memory and theory of mind in non-MCI Parkinson’s patients.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The current study investigated the effects of an eight-month randomized controlled trial, comprising combined physical and cognitive enrichment, on measures of personal autobiographical memory (ABM) and theory of mind (ToM) in idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD). These patients had a non-MCI status. Research suggests that ToM and ABM may be impaired early in PD, prior to the emergence of other cognitive deficits. PD participants were randomised to an active intervention group (n=21) or passive control group (usual care plus frequent researcher contact; n=19), and performance at baseline and end-oftrial was compared with an age, education and sex-matched healthy control group (HC; n=24). A combination of the Autobiographical Memory Interview (AMI) and Episodic Autobiographical Memory Interview (EAMI) was used to assess semantic and episodic memory, with a particular focus on the examination of sensory-perceptual and contextual detail associated with autonoetic episodic recall. A card sequencing False Belief story task assessed cognitive ToM. Overall, PD participants showed significantly impaired performance on both AMI and EAMI measures of episodic memory; for semantic memory, the PD group had poorer recall on the AMI, but this difference only emerged for later adulthood and especially recent memory for the EAMI measure at end-of-trial. For ToM, a significant prepost RCT interaction effect was found due to a low mean ToM score in the PD intervention group that increased to a similar mean score of both the HC and PD-passive groups at end-oftrial. However, no other effect of intervention was found in the non-MCI PD participants. Although the sample size was relatively small, this study suggests that a relatively intensive combination of cognitive and physical exercises does not benefit PD participants prior to an MCI status. Further follow up is required to test whether intervention effects emerge over the longer term.