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Logo of behavneuroBehavioural Neurology
Behav Neurol. 2013; 27(4): 535–545.
PMCID: PMC3815995

Alexithymia and Apathy in Parkinson’s Disease: Neurocognitive Correlates

Yelena Bogdanova 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ,* and Alice Cronin-Golomb 2


Non-motor symptoms such as neuropsychiatric and cognitive dysfunction have been found to be common in Parkinson’s disease (PD) but the relation between such symptoms is poorly understood. We focused on alexithymia, an impairment of affective and cognitive emotional processing, as there is evidence for its interaction with cognition in other disorders. Twenty-two non-demented PD patients and 22 matched normal control adults (NC) were administered rating scales assessing neuropsychiatric status, including alexithymia, apathy, and depression, and a series of neuropsychological tests. As expected, PD patients showed more alexithymia than NC, and there was a significant association between alexithymia and disease stage. Alexithymia was associated with performance on non-verbally mediated measures of executive and visuospatial function, but not on verbally mediated tasks. By contrast, there was no correlation between cognition and ratings of either depression or apathy. Our findings demonstrate a distinct association of alexithymia with non-verbal cognition in PD, implicating right hemisphere processes, and differentiate between alexithymia and other neuropsychiatric symptoms in regard to PD cognition.

Keywords: Non-motor symptoms, basal ganglia, ACC, frontostriatal, right hemisphere

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