A novel bedside task to tap inhibitory dysfunction and fronto-striatal atrophy in Parkinson's disease

C. O'Callaghan, S. L. Naismith, J. M. Shine, M. Bertoux, S. J. G. Lewis, M. Hornberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Given the heterogeneity of mild cognitive deficits in non-demented Parkinson's disease (PD), sensitive and anatomically specific behavioural measures are crucial when evaluating cognition in this patient group. Inhibitory dysfunction is one such deficit increasingly being recognised in non-demented PD; however, few clinical measures exist to detect it and its associated fronto-striatal pathology.  

Methods: In 50 non-demented PD patients and 27 controls we employ a novel measure, the Excluded Letter Fluency (ELF) test, to objectively assess inhibitory dysfunction. ELF results were also contrasted with an established inhibitory measure (Hayling Test) and covaried against grey matter atrophy via voxel-based morphometry analysis in a subset of patients.  

Results: The findings show that patients made significantly more rule-break errors than controls on the ELF and this measure was more sensitive than the Hayling in detecting inhibitory dysfunction, classifying over 76% of patients in logistic regression analysis. Importantly, ELF rule-break errors correlated with grey matter atrophy in known inhibitory-control regions (orbitofrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus and ventral striatum).  

Conclusions: The ELF is a brief bedside task that efficiently detects inhibitory dysfunction in non-demented PD. The utility of this novel behavioural measure is further substantiated by its anatomical specificity for fronto-striatal inhibitory control regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-830
Number of pages4
JournalParkinsonism & Related Disorders
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Cognition
  • Inhibitory dysfunction
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Voxel-based morphometry

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