Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients frequently develop cognitive impairment. There is a need for brief clinical assessments identifying PD patients at high risk of progressing to dementia. In this study, we look into predicting dementia in PD and underlying structural and functional correlates to cognitive decline in PD. We included 175 patients with PD, 30 with PD dementia, 51 neurologically healthy controls and 121 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from Skane University Hospital, BIOFINDER cohorts. All underwent cognitive tests, including MMSE, 10-word list delayed recall (ADAS-cog), A Quick Test of cognitive speed (AQT), Letter S fluency, Clock Drawing Test (CDT) and pentagon copying. In non-demented patients with PD, abnormal AQT and CDT results predicted an increased risk of subsequent development of dementia (hazard ratio 2.2 for both). When comparing the cognitive profile between PD and AD, decreased performance on AQT, which measures attention and processing speed, was more typical in PD. Lastly, we investigated the underlying structural and functional correlates for the PD-specific test AQT with magnetic resonance imaging. In PD patients, decreased performance on AQT was associated with i) cortical thinning in temporoparietal regions, ii) changes in diffusion MRI, especially in the cingulum tract, and iii) decreased functional connectivity in posterior brain networks.
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