Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Cynthia McRae, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mohammad Matin

Third Advisor

Kathy Green

Fourth Advisor

Barbara Vollmer


Fetal cell transplant, Parkinson's Disease, Surgery trial


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease often characterized at the time of diagnosis by resting tremor, rigidity, and/or bradykinesia. Over the course of the disease, motor functioning, cognitive functioning, and quality of life typically decline as the effectiveness of drug therapies diminishes. This study utilized medical, neuropsychological and quality of life data that were collected as part of a double-blind placebo surgery trial in which 40 patients were randomly assigned to receive bilateral transplantation of embryonic mesencephalic dopamine cells into the putamen or sham surgery. Nineteen women and 21 men participated in the study. Analyses focused on relationships between neuropsychological, motor, and quality of life data at baseline, 12, and 24 months post-surgery. Other analyses investigated differences between older (61+) and younger (≤ 60) patients in regard to neuropsychological functioning, as well as neuropsychological differences between those who thought they received the transplant and those who thought they received sham surgery at 12 months.

Results of this study indicated that a measure of verbal fluency and two measures of visual memory correlated most consistently with measures of motor functioning and quality of life. Depression was related to lower scores on neuropsychological assessments at 12 months and perceived support was related to higher neuropsychological scores at 24 months. Other results indicated that younger participants obtained higher scores on measures of verbal fluency and verbal memory than older participants. Finally, there were no differences between those who thought they received the transplant and those who thought they received the sham surgery before the double-blind was lifted at 12 months in regard to neuropsychological performance. Thus, the placebo effect, which was apparent in previous medical and quality of life analyses using these data, did not extend to neuropsychological test performance.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Gina M. Signoracci


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

144 p.


Psychology, Mental health

Included in

Psychology Commons