Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by a degeneration of the substantia nigra, resulting in a loss of dopaminergic neurons. Cognitive impairments, evident in 72% of people with PD (PWP) are indicated by deficits in visuospatial capacity, memory, executive functioning, and attention (Cooper, Sagar, Jordan, Harvey, & Sullivan, 1991; Duffy, 2005). Unfortunately, to date, there is little research that demonstrates improvement of these cognitive processes, particularly those affecting memory recall and attentional skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of utilizing Attention Process Training (APT; Sohlberg & Mateer, 2005), a therapeutic protocol designed for individuals who have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), on a person with Parkinson’s disease to determine if improvement of various attentional processes and memory recall could be improved. The protocol set forth by Sohlberg & Mateer (2005) was administered to a PWP in 12 hours of treatment, targeting sustained, selective, and alternating attention. Evidence for treatment effect could not be determined. However, the participant did reach criteria on sustained and selective attention tasks of increasing complexity. Due to the study’s time constraints, the participant received only three sessions of alternating attention and no divided attention training. From visual inspection of baseline probes for alternating and divided attention, it appeared that the participant was able to stabilize performance on percent correct and decrease his response time after receiving just sustained and selective attention training. Similar findings appeared for divided attention tasks. Changes in functional attention everyday attention measured by the Test of Everyday Attention (Robertson, Ward, Ridgeway, & Nimmo-Smith, 1994) were minimal. The most significant improvement in attentional processes was noted on the APT II Attention Questionnaire (Sohlberg, Johnson, Paule, Raskin, & Mateer, 2001), a self-report measure. The literature points toward the notion that training attention is foundational, and leads to improvement in working memory. Our results seem to bear this out, in that the participant improved on OSPAN and RSPAN automated working memory tasks (Unsworth & Spillers, 2010).



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Donovan, Neila