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Differentiating Normal from Pathological Brain Ageing Using Standard Neuropsychological Tests

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To diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) early, tests sensitive to neuropathology and insensitive to normal ageing are of greatest benefit. We used several neuropsychological tests to identify those best suited to distinguishing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and early AD from normal ageing. Impairments in long-term memory were found in older adults and these were even greater in MCI and AD. Older adults outperformed young controls on category fluency and produced later acquired and less familiar words. Older adults also outperformed both patient groups on this task producing more words which were significantly later acquired, less familiar and less typical. Decline in long-term memory appears nonspecific and in the early stage of AD cannot help the differentiation between normal and pathological brain ageing. Normal ageing has no negative effects on verbal fluency, and impairment on this task signals not only established AD, but also its prodromal MCI stage.
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Keywords: Age of acquisition; Alzheimer's disease; episodic memory; mild cognitive impairment; semantic memory; verbal fluency

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2014

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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