Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Individuals with REM sleep behaviour disorder are at significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Here we examined visual short-term memory deficits--long associated with Parkinson's disease--in patients with REM sleep behaviour disorder without Parkinson's disease using a novel task that measures recall precision. Visual short-term memory for sequentially presented coloured bars of different orientation was assessed in 21 patients with polysomnography-proven idiopathic REM sleep behaviour disorder, 26 cases with early Parkinson's disease and 26 healthy controls. Three tasks using the same stimuli controlled for attentional filtering ability, sensorimotor and temporal decay factors. Both patients with REM sleep behaviour disorder and Parkinson's disease demonstrated a deficit in visual short-term memory, with recall precision significantly worse than in healthy controls with no deficit observed in any of the control tasks. Importantly, the pattern of memory deficit in both patient groups was specifically explained by an increase in random responses. These results demonstrate that it is possible to detect the signature of memory impairment associated with Parkinson's disease in individuals with REM sleep behaviour disorder, a condition associated with a high risk of developing Parkinson's disease. The pattern of visual short-term memory deficit potentially provides a cognitive marker of 'prodromal' Parkinson's disease that might be useful in tracking disease progression and for disease-modifying intervention trials.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





47 - 53


Parkinson's disease, REM sleep behaviour disorder, attention, biomarkers, memory, Aged, Case-Control Studies, Female, Humans, Male, Memory Disorders, Memory, Short-Term, Mental Recall, Parkinson Disease, Photic Stimulation, Polysomnography, Prodromal Symptoms, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Visual Perception