The effect of music-induced emotion on visual-spatial learning in people with Parkinson's disease: A pilot study

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Introduction: Emotional states have been shown to influence cognitive processes including visual-spatial learning. Parkinson's Disease (PD), besides manifesting with the cardinal motor symptoms, presents cognitive and affective disturbances. Here we aimed at investigating whether manipulation of the emotional state by means of music was able to influence the performance of a visual-spatial learning task in a group of PD participants. Methods: Ten PD patients and 11 healthy elderly (ELD) were asked to perform a visual-spatial learning task while listening two musical pieces evoking a neutral emotion or fear. Targets were presented on a screen in a preset order over four blocks and subjects were asked to learn the sequence order by attending to the display. At the end of each block, participants were asked to verbally recall the sequence and a score was assigned (Verbal Score, VS). Results: Analysis of variance-type statistic test on the VS disclosed a significant effect of Music and sequence Blocks (p = 0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively) and a significant interaction between Group and sequence Blocks. Sequence learning occurred across the training period in both groups, but PD patients were slower than ELD and at the end of the training period learning performance was worse in PD with respect to ELD. In PD patients, like in ELD, fear-inducing music has a detrimental effect on visual-spatial learning performances, which are slower and decreased. Conclusion: These findings confirm an impairment in visual-spatial learning in PD and indicates that the emotional state influences this learning ability similarly to healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-123
Number of pages4
JournalParkinsonism and Related Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Cognitive learning
  • Emotion
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology


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