There is a growing need for predicting Alzheimer disease (AD) based on emerging neurocognitive dysfunction before the onset of the disease.
According to neuropathological changes in the mesial temporal lobe (MTL) before the onset of clinical symptoms and the relationship between the function of these structures and cognitive functions (such as visual memory, working memory, and new learning), we aimed to investigate the possibility of these cognitive functions as markers of transition from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to AD.
In this case-control study, 15 patients with AD, 18 patients with MCI (from memory clinics of Tehran University of Medical Sciences), and 15 healthy people were compared using the 3 subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), including spatial working memory (SWM), pattern recognition memory (PRM), and paired-associate learning (PAL). The tests were performed between 9 AM and 12 noon. The scores were compared by a 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).
The mean ages of AD, MCI, and healthy groups were 68.66, 68.22, and 64.26 years, respectively. In terms of the SWM test, in 2 of 3 variables, there were significant differences between the 3 groups (P = 0.000 and P = 0.001). Regarding the PRM test, there were significant differences between the 3 groups in accuracy and response time (P = 0.000 and P = 0.004, respectively). Regarding PAL, there were significant differences between the 3 groups in all 3 variables (P = 0.000). The Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) scores were associated with almost all variable scores (P = 0.000).
Dysfunction in new learning and recognition memory can be indicators of MCI and its progression to AD, whereas the assessment of SWM can only be used to assess the progression of MCI to AD.
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