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Cognition in Parkinson’s Disease

A major collaborator on this project has been Dr. Raymon Durso (BU School of Medicine).

Understanding mechanisms of mental and social dysfunction in PD is crucial for development of more effective therapies for PD patients and may illuminate mechanisms of affective and cognitive impairment in normal aging and in many of the other age-related disorders that manifest such impairment.

Our current project, which launched in May 2013, is looking at cognition and religious coping in veterans with Parkinson’s Disease. This project is housed mainly at the Boston VA and is in collaboration with BU and the Institute for the Bio-Cultural Study of Religion.

About the study:

Key Question: How do the language and communication problems of Parkinson’s disease (PD) influence patient’s coping strategies?

Through a series of experiments, we are expecting to find differences in religiosity in left-onset patients with Parkinson’s, compared to right-onset. A subgroup is being tested on and off their Leva-dopa (LD) medication, and are also being scanned in an fMRI machine.We are expecting to replicate past projects by identifying patients with particular problems accessing religious concepts, identify the key neural systems that support these two distinct forms of religious cognition, and show connections between dopaminergic activity and religious cognition.

A more detailed description of this study, including our hypotheses, can be found here.

Recent Parkinson’s Disease Publications

Please feel free to email Dr. McNamara for any of these reprints.

  1. Butler, P. M., McNamara, P., Ghofrani, J., & Durso, R. (2011). Disease-associated differences in religious cognition in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, iFirst, 1-12.
  2. Butler, P. M., McNamara, P., Durso, R. (2011). Side of onset in Parkinson’s Disease and alterations in religiosity: Novel behavioral phenotypes. Behavioural Neurology, 24(2), 133-141.
  3. McNamara, P., Stavitsky, K., Durso, R., & Harris, E. (2010). The impact of clinical and cognitive variables on social functioning in Parkinson’s disease: Patient versus examiner estimates. Parkinson’s Disease, Article ID263083, 6 pages.
  4. Holtgraves, T., & McNamara, P. (2010). Pragmatic comprehension deficit in Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 32(4), 388-397. PMID: 19763993
  5. Holtgraves, T., & McNamara, P. (2010). Parkinson’s disease and politeness. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 29(2), 178-193.
  6. Stavitsky, K., Saurman, J., McNamara, P., & Cronin-Golomb, A. (2010). Sleep in Parkinson’s Disease: A comparison of actigraphy and subjective measures. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders, 16, 280-283.
  7. McNamara, P., Stavitsky, K., Harris, E., Szent-Imrey, O., & Durso, R. (2010). Mood, side of motor symptom onset and pain complaints in Parkinson’s disease. International Journal of Geriatric, 25, 519-524. PMID: 19711336
  8. Holtgraves, T., McNamara, P., Cappaert, K., & Durso, R. (2010). Linguistic correlates of asymmetric motor symptom severity in Parkinson’s Disease. Brain and Cognition, 72(2), 189-196. PMID: 19751960
  9. McNamara, P., Holtgraves, T. Durso, R., & Harris, E. (2010). Social cognition of indirect speech: Evidence from Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Neurolinguistics Journal of Neurolinguistics, 23(2), 162-171. PMID: 20161657
  10. Stavitsky, K., McNamara, P., Durso, R., Harris, E., Auerbach, S., & Cronin-Golomb, A. (2008). Hallucinations, dreaming and frequent dozing in Parkinson’s disease: Impact of right-hemisphere neural networks. Cognitive & Behavioral Neurology, 21(3), 143-149. PMID: 18797256
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