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Neuropsychol Rev. 2010 Jun;20(2):191-208. doi: 10.1007/s11065-010-9128-8. Epub 2010 Apr 10.

Parkinson's disease as a disconnection syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Boston University, 648 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a major neurodegenerative disorder that is usually considered in terms of midbrain and basal ganglia dysfunction. Regarding PD instead as a disconnection syndrome may prove beneficial to understanding aspects of cognition, perception, and other neuropsychological domains in the disease. PD is usually of unilateral onset, providing evidence of intrahemispheric dissociations and an imbalance in the usual relative strengths of the right and left hemispheres. Hence, in order to appreciate the neuropsychology of PD, it is important to apply to this disease our understanding of hemispheric lateralization effects and within-hemisphere circuitry from brainstem to higher-order association cortex. The focus of this review is on the relevance of PD-related disconnections among subcortical and cortical structures to cognition, perception, emotion, and associated brainstem-based domains such as sleep and mood disturbance. Besides providing information on disease characteristics, regarding PD as a disconnection syndrome allows us to more completely understand normal brain-behavior relations in general.

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