Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parkinson’s disease undermines language processing

Date:
February 9, 2011
Source:
University of Groningen
Summary:
It is becoming generally known that Parkinson's disease influences more than a patient's motor functions. Patients often also suffer from depression, fear and incontinence, for example. Researchers have now found that the disease also undermines the language processing ability.

It is becoming generally known that Parkinson's disease influences more than a patient's motor functions. Patients often also suffer from depression, fear and incontinence, for example. However, the disease also undermines the language processing ability.

University of Groningen researcher Katrien Colman has found clear indications of this in Dutch native speaker patients. She will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 17 February 2011. Colman: 'We could spare patients a lot of suffering if we learn to better understand their language processing problems.'

The more the population ages, the more cases there will be of Parkinson's disease. The general public mainly recognizes Parkinson's through its motor symptoms. Patients have trembling hands or arms, stiff limbs and walk bent over, shuffling. Well-known patients included Prince Claus, consort to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Pope John Paul II.

Stiff limbs

Parkinson's disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine in the brain. A lack of this neurotransmitter leads not only to the familiar motor symptoms, but also affects the executive brain functions of the patient; in other words, their ability to guide their own behaviour in new, non-routine situations. Examples include systematic actions, foreseeing consequences and resolving problems flexibly.

Stilted sentences

Katrien Colman demonstrated that impairment of the executive functions also affects language processing. For example, impairment of the executive brain function can result in a patient no longer understanding a complicated sentence construction: before the patient reaches the end of the sentence, he or she has forgotten how it began. Impairment of flexibility means that the patient has difficulty in changing the subject, even if there is a clear reason to do so. Impairment of the ability to work in a structured way means that it becomes difficult to construct grammatically correct sentences.

Aphasia: a different problem

The language processing problems of Parkinson's patients are sometimes compared with those of aphasia patients -- often incorrectly, as revealed by Colman's research. Aphasia, for example as the result of an infarct, can affect the grammatical ability itself, meaning that the patient can no longer conjugate a verb. The patient can then, for example, no longer derive the past participle 'walked' from the infinitive 'to walk'. With Parkinson's patients, this specific grammatical ability is not affected but rather the underlying executive function. The patient is then in principle able to derive a past participle, but in some situations does not do so -- for example because he can no longer view the sentence as a whole.

The research reveals that the language processing problems of Parkinson's patients deserve serious attention. Colman said, 'If communication is difficult, this does not necessarily mean that the patient is tired or depressed, or that there's something wrong with his intelligence.' Patients can be helped if people communicate with them in simple sentences, but it would be wrong to treat them as children. Colman: 'We could spare patients a lot of suffering if we learnt to better understand their language impairments and developed suitable ways to communicate with them.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Groningen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Groningen. "Parkinson’s disease undermines language processing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082642.htm>.
University of Groningen. (2011, February 9). Parkinson’s disease undermines language processing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082642.htm
University of Groningen. "Parkinson’s disease undermines language processing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110209082642.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins