Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms can often be harder to identify as they are not as visible as physical symptoms. These symptoms are a direct result of the changes in the brain that are responsible for the way we think, plan, organise and perform tasks.  They affect our memory, concentration and thought patterns.

The cognitive symptoms can be experienced by an individual in different ways as described below:  


Memory & Concentration

With the progression of Huntington’s disease, the frontal lobe that is vital for functional memory can become impaired, leading to memory difficulties. In reality, this impairment impacts an individual’s ability to independently carry out daily tasks as the frontal lobe’s ability to understand the external environment and process, store and retrieve information is affected. This can be demonstrated through difficulties with concentration, recalling and retaining new information, being easily distracted and therefore struggling to complete tasks.  

Thought Patterns

Damage that occurs to the basal ganglia affects how information is received and understood by the frontal lobe. This directly affects the ability to organise, process and initiate tasks. This means an individual with Huntington’s disease can find it challenging to respond to unexpected changes, communicate their feeling clearly and to arrange their thoughts, activities, plans and feelings. In response, frustrations can often be expressed as the affected individual’s understanding of reality can be different from those around them.   


The damage that happens to the basal ganglia does affect how the frontal lobe understands messages being received. The disruption in the connection between these two regions of the brain has a direct impact on our behaviours. This is demonstrated by an individual with Huntington’s disease through the expression of perseveration and impulsiveness. Perseveration is when an individual is mentally stuck or fixated on an issue. This can be exhibited through uncontrollable repetition in an action, thought or emotion. Impulsiveness is when an individual responds to an issue without realising the consequences or impacts on those around them. This can be demonstrated through impatience in response to circumstances where the individual may not have the capacity to wait.