Category: Parkinson's Disease: Cognitive functions
Objective: To investigate how the word association in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is changed compared to a control group to obtain evidence on impairments in emotional and action-related speech processing and word finding difficulties.
Background: Over 80% of people with PD suffer from language changes or disorders . Word-finding difficulties also occur frequently . This impairs the subjective ability to communicate and leads to a reduction in social interactions . Especially the processing of verbs with high movement content seems to be impaired .
Method: The medical history and the current status of the cognitive and motor impairment were recorded by using the UPDRS, PANDA and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). In the word association task, participants were presented with 20 action  and 20 emotion verbs , to which they freely associated further verbs within 60 seconds. The number of associated verbs was counted.
Results: 40 patients with PD (62.5% male, mean age 63.6 yrs +/-6.89 SD) and 45 control subjects (51% male, age 64.02 yrs +/-5.96 SD) participated. Mean years of education were 10.38 yrs +/-2.02 SD in PD- and 10.40 +/-2.12 SD in control group. In the UPDRS, the PD-group achieved a mean score of 67.97 +/-24.07 SD, the control group 6.27 +/-6.41 SD. In the PANDA, the PD-group mean scored 23.73 +/-3.65 SD, the control group 26.04 +/-3.25. In the GDS with a maximum of 15 points attainable the PD-group scored 4.7 +/-4.04 SD, the control group 0.6 +/-1.16 SD. There were significant differences between the study groups in the number of associated verbs in the given unit of time: 5.85 words +/-2.51 SD in the PD group and 10.15 +/-3.45 SD in the control group (p <,001). Both groups associated most with action verbs: 6.25 +/-2.71 SD in the PD- and 10.78 +/-3.69 SD in the control group (p <,001). The fewest words were associated with negative emotion verbs: 5.11 +/-2.37 SD in the PD- and 9.32 +/-3.37 SD in the control group (p <,001).
Conclusion: Word association in Parkinson’s disease seems to be changed what could be expressed in increasing word finding difficulties, which in turn could have a negative effect on the communication skills. Because only under five percent currently receive adequate speech therapy , it should be investigated whether early language therapy could reduce the onset of speech impairments.
References:  Dashtipour, K., Tafreshi, A., Lee, J., & Crawley, B. (2018). Speech disorders in Parkinson’s disease: pathophysiology, medical management and surgical approaches. Neurodegenerative disease management, 8(5), 337–348.DOI: 10.2217/nmt-2018-0021
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To cite this abstract in AMA style:E. Eschenbacher, I. Reuter. Word association in Parkinson’s Disease using action verbs and emotion verbs [abstract]. Mov Disord. 2022; 37 (suppl 2). https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/word-association-in-parkinsons-disease-using-action-verbs-and-emotion-verbs/. Accessed December 1, 2023.
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