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Primary dystonia is a disorder of movement for which no consistent pathophysiology has been identified; in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is assumed to be cognitively benign. We have studied a clinically heterogeneous group of 14 patients with primary dystonia on a battery of neuropsychological tests. Despite well-preserved speed of information processing, language, spatial, memory and general intellectual skills relative to normal controls, we have identified a constellation of attentional-executive cognitive deficits on the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Specifically, patients demonstrated significant difficulties negotiating the extra-dimensional set-shifting phase of the IED task. The implications of these findings for the pathophysiology of primary dystonia are discussed. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first report of a significant cognitive deficit in patients with primary dystonia.

Original publication




Journal article


Mov Disord

Publication Date





539 - 550


Adult, Brain, Cognition Disorders, Disability Evaluation, Dystonia, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Neuropsychological Tests, Perceptual Disorders, Reaction Time, Severity of Illness Index, Visual Perception