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Parkinson’s Disease
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 213983, 15 pages
Research Article

Sentence Comprehension and Its Association with Executive Functions in Patients with Parkinson's Disease

1Department of Neurolinguistics, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 716, 9700 AS Groningen, The Netherlands
2Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands
3Department of Neurology, University Medical Center Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands

Received 14 March 2011; Revised 16 June 2011; Accepted 18 July 2011

Academic Editor: Harrison N. Jones

Copyright © 2011 Katrien S. F. Colman et al. 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.


Coexistent impairments in executive functions and language comprehension in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) have been repeatedly observed. In this study, the aim was to provide insights into the interaction between linguistic representation and processing and executive functioning. Therefore, sentence comprehension and executive functions were assessed in 28 Dutch-speaking PD patients and 28 healthy control subjects. Three aspects of the sentence materials were varied: (1) phrase structure complexity, (2) sentence length, and (3) picture congruence. PD patients with mild-to-moderate disease severity showed decreased sentence comprehension compared to healthy control subjects. The difficulties encountered by PD patients were not limited to one aspect of the sentence materials. The same pattern of results was present in healthy control subjects. Deficits in set-switching were specifically associated with the comprehension of passive sentences. Generally, our study confirms that there does not appear to be a language faculty encapsulated from the influence of executive functions.