Recognition memory and verbal fluency differentiate probable Alzheimer disease from subcortical ischemic vascular dementia

Arch Neurol. 2001 Oct;58(10):1654-9. doi: 10.1001/archneur.58.10.1654.


Background: Alzheimer disease (AD) and vascular dementia are among the most frequently occurring causes of dementia in the world, and their accurate differentiation is important because different pharmaceutical strategies may modify the course of each disease.

Objective: To determine which of 10 neuropsychological test scores can accurately differentiate patients with probable AD from those with subcortical ischemic vascular dementia (SIVD) for use in evidence-based clinical practice.

Design: Patients with suspected dementia were referred to the study by family physicians, geriatricians, and neurologists. All participants received a thorough assessment according to standard diagnostic guidelines. Diagnoses of probable AD (n = 31) and probable SIVD (n = 31) were made according to consensus criteria. The diagnosticians were blind to the results of the 10 neuropsychological test scores.

Results: There were no significant differences between the groups in age or Mini-Mental State Examination scores. Logistic regression analyses identified 2 neuropsychological tests that best distinguished the groups (sensitivity = 81%; specificity = 84%; positive likelihood ratio = 5.1). These were the recognition memory subtest of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test and the Controlled Oral Word Association Test. The AD group performed better on the oral association test, whereas the SIVD group did better on the recognition memory test.

Conclusion: Patients with probable AD and probable SIVD can be distinguished with a high degree of accuracy using these 2 neuropsychological tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Dementia, Vascular / diagnosis*
  • Dementia, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Dementia, Vascular / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logic
  • Memory
  • Mental Processes
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perception
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Trail Making Test
  • Word Association Tests