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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2011 Nov;118(11):1613-9. doi: 10.1007/s00702-011-0679-5. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Dream features in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

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Neurology Department Hospital de Egas Moniz, Rua da Junqueira 126, Lisbon, Portugal.


Few studies have investigated the relation between dream features and cognition in Parkinson's disease (PD), although vivid dreams, hallucinations and cognitive decline have been proposed as successive steps of a pathological continuum. Our objectives were therefore to characterize the dreams of early stage PD and to study the relation between dream characteristics, cognitive function, motor status, depression, dopaminergic treatment, and the presence of REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) and hallucinations. Dreams of 19 male PD patients and 21 matched control subjects were classified according to Hall and van de Castle system. h statistics was used to compare the dream content between patients and controls. We tested the relation between patients' dreams characteristics and cognitive function (Frontal assessment battery (FAB) and Mini-Mental State Examination tests) depression (Beck depression inventory), motor function (UPDRS), dopaminergic treatment, the presence of RBD (according to clinical criteria) and hallucinations, using general linear model statistics. Patients and controls differed only on FAB scores. Relevant differences in the Hall and van de Castle scale were found between patient's dreams and those of the control group, regarding animals, aggression/friendliness, physical aggression, befriender (higher in the patient group) and aggressor and bodily misfortunes (lower in the patient group) features. Cognitive and particularly frontal dysfunction had a significant influence on the frequency of physical aggression and animal related features, while dopaminergic doses, depressive symptoms, hallucinations and RBD did not. We found a pattern of dream alteration characterized by heightened aggressiveness and the presence of animals. These were related to more severe frontal dysfunction, which could be the origin of such changes.

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