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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 9 (1996), Issue 3-4, Pages 127-134

Procedural Memory: Computer Learning in Control Subjects and in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

C. Thomas-Antérion,1,2 B. Laurent,1 N. Foyatier-Michel,1 S. Laporte,2 and D. Michel1

1Service de Neurologie, Hôpital de Bellevue, Boulevard Pasteur, Saint-Etienne, France
2Service de Médecine Interne et de Thérapeutique, Hôpital de Bellevue, Boulevard Pasteur, Saint-Etienne, France
3Service de Neurologie, C.H.U. de Saint-Etienne, Hopital de Bellevue, 42055 Sant-Etienne Cedex 2, France

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We used perceptual motor tasks involving the learning of mouse control by looking at a Macintosh computer screen. We studied 90 control subjects aged between sixteen and seventy-five years. There was a significant time difference between the scales of age but improvement was the same for all subjects. We also studied 24 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). We observed an influence of age and also of educational levels. The PD patients had difficulties of learning in all tests but they did not show differences in time when compared to the control group in the first learning session (Student's t-test). They learned two or four and a half times less well than the control group. In the first test, they had some difficulty in initiating the procedure and learned eight times less well than the control group. Performances seemed to be heterogeneous: patients with only tremor (seven) and patients without treatment (five) performed better than others but learned less. Success in procedural tasks for the PD group seemed to depend on the capacity to initiate the response and not on the development of an accurate strategy. Many questions still remain unanswered, and we have to study different kinds of implicit memory tasks to differentiate performance in control and basal ganglia groups.