Motor asymmetry and substantia nigra volume are related to spatial delayed response performance in Parkinson disease
Studies suggest motor deficit asymmetry may help predict the pattern of cognitive impairment in individuals with Parkinson disease (PD). We tested this hypothesis using a highly validated and sensitive spatial memory task, spatial delayed response (SDR), and clinical and neuroimaging measures of PD asymmetry. We predicted SDR performance would be more impaired by PD-related changes in the right side of the brain than in the left. PD (n = 35) and control (n = 28) participants performed the SDR task. PD participants either had worse motor deficits on the right (RPD) or left (LPD) side of the body. Some participants also had magnetic resonance imaging for measurement of their substantia nigra (SN) volumes. The LPD group performed worse on the SDR task than the RPD and control groups. Right SN volume accounted for a unique and significant portion of the variance in SDR error, with smaller volume predicting poorer performance. In conclusion, left motor dysfunction and smaller right SN volume are associated with poorer spatial memory.