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Patterns of prefrontal dysfunction in alcoholics with and without Korsakoff’s syndrome, patients with Parkinson’s disease, and patients with rupture and repair of the anterior communicating artery

By Courtney L Dirksen, Julie A Howard, Alice Cronin-Golomb and Marlene Oscar-Berman


This study compared patterns of frontal-lobe dysfunction in alcoholics with Korsakoff’s syndrome (KS: n = 9), non-Korsakoff alcoholics (AL: n = 28), patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD: n = 18), and patients with rupture and repair of the anterior communicating artery (ACoA: n = 4) relative to healthy non-neurological control (NC) participants (n = 70). The tests administered were sensitive to functions of dorsolateral prefrontal and orbito-frontal subsystems. Measures included perseverative errors on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST-pe), errors on object alternation (OA), errors on Trails B, number of words generated on the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT), and number of categories completed on the WCST (WCST-cc). KS patients were as impaired as AL participants on orbitofrontal measures and, on dorsolateral prefrontal measures, were impaired relative to AL participants, whose performance did not differ from controls. Patients with PD also were impaired on tests of orbitofrontal and dorsolateral prefrontal functioning but to a lesser extent than the KS patients. Moreover, most of the PD deficits were driven by the impaired performance of patients whose initial symptoms were on the right side of the body. The ACoA patients were significantly impaired on tests of orbitofrontal but not dorsolateral prefrontal functioning relative to the control group. Together, the results confirm different patterns of frontal-system impairments in patient groups having compromised frontal lobe functioning consequent to varying etiologies

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