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Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2019 Mar 1. pii: S1353-8020(19)30086-0. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.02.038. [Epub ahead of print]

Mind the gaps: What we don't know about cognitive impairment in essential tremor.

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Division of Movement Disorders, Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Center for Neuroepidemiology and Clinical Neurological Research, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA; Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.



Although the hallmark feature of essential tremor (ET) is tremor, there is growing appreciation that cognitive impairment also occurs, including increased prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and increased prevalence and incidence of dementia. With emerging knowledge of ET-cognitive impairment, come fundamental questions regarding its course, bases, predictors and clinical outcomes. Studies in the general population and in Parkinson's disease (PD), a related movement disorder, offer a starting point from which to begin filling these clinically important knowledge gaps.


A PubMed search (June 2018) identified articles for this review.


Much of our knowledge of cognitive impairment in ET is of the static condition (e.g., prevalence of cognitive impairment in ET), with nearly no information on its bases, predictors and dynamics (i.e., course, and clinical outcomes). In PD, where such data have been published, rates of cognitive decline and conversion to MCI/dementia are higher than in the general population. Predictors of cognitive change in PD and the general population have also been identified, yet they only partially overlap one another.


The predictors and dynamics of cognitive impairment have been investigated fairly extensively in the general population, to a somewhat lesser extent in PD, and are emerging only now in ET. We suggest that longitudinal studies specific to ET are needed, and we outline variables to be considered in these investigations. Increased knowledge of ET-cognitive impairment will facilitate meaningful counseling of patients and their families.


Cognition; Dementia; Essential tremor; Mild cognitive impairment; Risk factors

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