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Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD) affects 33–46% of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and may be a risk factor for neuropsychological and functional deficits. However, the role of RBD on neuropsychological functioning in PD has yet to be fully determined. We, therefore, examined differences in neurocognitive performance, functional capacity, and psychiatric symptoms among nondemented PD patients with probable RBD (PD/pRBD+) and without (PD/pRBD−), and healthy comparison participants (HC).
Totally, 172 participants (58 PD/pRBD+; 65 PD/pRBD−; 49 HC) completed an RBD sleep questionnaire, psychiatric/clinical questionnaires, performance-based and self-reported functional capacity measures, and underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological battery assessing attention/working memory, language, visuospatial function, verbal and visual learning and memory, and executive function.
Controlling for psychiatric symptom severity, the PD/pRBD+ group had poorer executive functioning and learning performance than the PD/pRBD− group and poorer neuropsychological functioning across all individual cognitive domains than the HCs. In contrast, PD/pRBD− patients had significantly lower scores than HCs only in the language domain. Moreover, PD/pRBD+ patients demonstrated significantly poorer medication management skills compared to HCs. Both PD groups reported greater depressive and anxiety severity compared to HCs; PD/pRBD+ group also endorsed greater severity of apathy compared to HCs.
The presence of pRBD is associated with poorer neuropsychological functioning in PD such that PD patients with pRBD have poorer cognitive, functional, and emotional outcomes compared to HC participants and/or PD patients without pRBD. Our findings underscore the importance of RBD assessment for improved detection and treatment of neuropsychological deficits (e.g., targeted cognitive interventions).
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