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The 10-word learning task in the differential diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease and elderly depression: A cross-sectional pilot study

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Objectives: Identification of early Alzheimer's disease (AD) has become very important. Episodic memory tasks appear to have predictive power for indicating early AD. Deficits in encoding and storage processes that are characteristic of AD, however, must be distinguished from non-AD deficits that can also affect memory, including difficulties that may be present in depression. This pilot study was set up to ascertain whether a 10-word-list-learning task (delayed recognition and rate of forgetting) may be useful in making the differentiation between mild AD and depression. Method: A Dutch version of Rey's auditory verbal learning test was administered to 36 mild AD patients, 41 depressed patients, and 47 healthy controls. Data were analyzed in a cross-sectional manner. Results: Receiver operating characteristic analyses showed that for differentiating mild AD and depression, both delayed recognition and percentage of forgetting have sufficient diagnostic accuracy. Conclusion: Percentage of forgetting had the highest diagnostic accuracy for differentiating mild AD and depressed patients and may be useful in the early detection of AD.

Keywords: delayed recall; dementia; elderly depression; memory; recognition; serial verbal learning test

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Clinical and Lifespan Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium 2: Department of Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium 3: Department of Clinical and Lifespan Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium,Centre for Educational Effectiveness and Evaluation, Catholic University Leuven, Leuven, Belgium 4: Department of Adult Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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