Memory for gist and detail information in patients with Parkinson's disease

Rwei Ling Yu, Chun Hsiang Tan, Yih Ru Wu, Ruey Meei Wu, Ming Jang Chiu, Mau Sun Hua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Memory formation is proposed to be a dual process that involves the simultaneous memorisation of both detailed information (item-specific memory) and gist information (gist memory). Memory deficits have been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD); however, few studies have explicitly addressed the nature of these deficits. To obtain a detailed understanding of memory dysfunction in patients with PD, it is of crucial importance to establish whether item-specific memory and gist memory performance are impaired. The aim of this study is to explore whether gist memory and item-specific memory performance are still intact in patients with PD, as well as to determine which psychological mechanisms are responsible for memory formation. Setting: Two hospitals in northern Taiwan. Participants: Thirty-nine patients with PD and 28 normal controls were recruited. Each participant received a gist-based recognition test following the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm, as well as neuropsychological tests and measures of clinical characteristics. Results: Gist memory was impaired in patients with advanced-stage disease (Hoehn and Yahr (H&Y) stage: III) (F2, 64=3.58, p=0.033), whereas item-specific memory was preserved throughout all disease stages. Correlation analysis showed that item-specific memory was related to executive functions in normal controls and early-stage patients with PD (H&Y stage: I-II); however, item-specific memory was related to episodic memory, rather than to executive functions, in advanced-stage patients with PD. Moreover, gist memory was related to episodic memory, but only in early-stage patients with PD. Conclusions: We discovered that impaired gist memory is found in advanced-stage, but not in early-stage, patients with PD. Our findings suggest that the techniques used to take advantage of the relatively preserved gist memory in early-stage patients with PD, as well as the preserved item-specific memory in patients with PD of all stages, could be useful for memory rehabilitation programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere009795
JournalBMJ open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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