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Anxiety Affects Working Memory Only in Left Hemibody Onset Parkinson Disease Patients

Foster, Paul S. PhD* †; Drago, Valeria MD† ‡ §; Yung, Raegan C. BA*; Skidmore, Frank M. MD† ‡; Skoblar, Barry PsyD; Shenal, Brian V. PhD; Rhodes, Robert D. MS; Heilman, Kenneth M. MD† ‡

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: March 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 14-18
doi: 10.1097/WNN.0b013e3181cc8be9
Original Studies

Objective This investigation sought to examine the potential moderating influence of heightened anxiety on working memory in Parkinson disease (PD) patients. Further, we wanted to determine whether this moderating influence of anxiety differentially affects PD patients with left hemibody (LBH) versus right hemibody (RHB) onset of motor symptoms.

Background Research has examined the neurocognitive effects of depression in PD. However, a paucity of research has examined the effects of heightened anxiety in PD. We predicted that LHB PD patients with heightened anxiety would perform worse on a measure of working memory than RHB PD patients.

Method A total of 59 PD patients completed the state-trait anxiety inventory and were also administered the digit span subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale—III.

Results The results supported the hypotheses, indicating that the LHB PD patients with heightened anxiety performed significantly worse than the RHB PD patients with heightened anxiety and the LHB PD patients with low anxiety.

Conclusions These findings suggest that left hemibody onset PD patients may experience more disability in their activities of daily living. Future research should explore whether differences also exist between PD patients with and without the diagnosed anxiety disorders.

*Middle Tennessee State University

University of Florida

Malcom Randall VAMC

§Oasi Institute for Research on Mental Retardation and Brain Aging, Troina, EN, Italy

Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC

Mental Health Service Line, Salem VA Medical Center

Concord University, WV

Reprints: Paul S. Foster, PhD, Middle Tennessee State University, Psychology Department, 1500 Greenland Drive, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (e-mail:

Received for publication December 18, 2008; accepted November 22, 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.