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Impairments in source memory for olfactory and visual stimuli in preclinical and clinical stages of Huntington's disease

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Abstract:

Individuals in preclinical and clinical stages of Huntington's disease (HD) demonstrate impairments in olfactory functioning. In addition, HD patients are impaired in source memory for verbal stimuli. A task combining both source and odor memory may be particularly sensitive to early changes in HD. The present study examined source and item memory for olfactory and visual stimuli in 10 individuals with HD, 10 asymptomatic HD gene carriers, 8 nongene carriers who had a parent with HD, and 20 normal controls. During the study phase, a male and a female experimenter (sources) presented odors and objects to the participant in an alternating sequence. To assess item memory, a stimulus from the study phase (target) and a novel stimulus (distractor) were presented, and the participant was asked to choose the target. To assess source memory, the experimenter presented a stimulus and asked whether the male or female experimenter had previously presented the stimulus. Results indicate that source memory for both visual and olfactory stimuli was impaired in HD patients compared to normal controls. In asymptomatic gene carriers, however, source memory for olfactory stimuli, but not visual stimuli, was more impaired than in nongene carriers and normal controls. Furthermore, gene carriers and HD patients showed a similar degree of impairment in source memory for olfactory stimuli. The only significant impairment found in item memory was for olfactory stimuli in HD patients. These results suggest that source memory for olfactory stimuli may be particularly sensitive to neuropathological changes in preclinical stages of HD.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13803390600726829

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA 2: Veterans Affairs, San Diego Health Care System, San Diego, CA, USA,Department of Psychiatry, UCSD, San Diego, CA, USA 3: Department of Neurosciences, UCSD, San Diego, CA, USA 4: Veterans Affairs, San Diego Health Care System, San Diego, CA, USA 5: Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA,SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2007

psych/jcen/2007/00000029/00000004/art00006
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