Cognitive dysfunction and REM sleep behavior disorder: Key findings in the literature and preliminary longitudinal findings

Raffaele Manni, Elena Sinforiani, Claudio Pacchetti, Chiara Zucchella, Riccardo Cremascoli, Michele Terzaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A considerable proportion of subjects initially diagnosed with idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder (iRBD) are reported to convert to a neurodegenerative disorder, mainly synucleinopathies.It is unclear whether cognitive deficits in iRBD represent an associated feature or a marker predictive of subsequent development of a synucleinopathy.Cross-sectional studies indicate that a proportion of iRBD patients show cognitive deficits similar to those typically found in patients with synucleinopathies.The available longitudinal data suggest that cognitive dysfunction in iRBD tends to progress over time, with this progression probably being underpinned by a neurodegenerative process.Furthermore, within the framework of Parkinson's disease, RBD has been shown to be a risk factor for progressive cognitive decline even advancing to dementia.This paper addresses the multifaceted issue of cognitive dysfunction in RBD. Taking into account some key literature findings and preliminary longitudinal observations of our own, it shows that cognitive deterioration, mainly involving visuospatial abilities (learning as a stable deficit and copying as an evolving deficit), non-verbal logic, attention and executive functions can be observed in iRBD follow-up, suggesting an underlying evolving degenerative process.Large cohort studies with more prolonged follow-ups and greater methodological uniformity are needed to provide more reliable and robust findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Extrapyramidal disorders
  • Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Neuropsychological performances
  • Synucleinopathies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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