Clock drawing errors in dementia: neuropsychological and neuroanatomical considerations

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2004 Jun;17(2):74-84. doi: 10.1097/01.wnn.0000119564.08162.46.


Objectives: A clock drawing test scoring system is presented to explore the neuropsychological/neuroanatomic components underlying clock drawing in patients initially diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, ischemic vascular dementia associated with white matter alterations, and Parkinson disease.

Methods: Fourteen clock drawing test errors were scored to create 4 clock drawing test subscales that assess different underlying cognitive operations.

Results: In the command condition, errors on the Time subscale were correlated with impairment on executive control measures. In the copy condition, errors on the Perseveration/Pull to Stimulus subscale was also correlated with executive control measures. Patients presenting with mild (low) magnetic resonance imaging white matter alterations, significant (high) white matter alterations, and Parkinson disease were compared. In the command condition, the low white matter alterations group made fewer total errors than the Parkinson disease group. In the copy condition, the low white matter alterations group made fewer errors on the Time, Spatial Layout, and Perseveration/Pull to Stimulus clock drawing test subscales than the high white matter alterations or Parkinson disease groups. Few differences were noted between the high white matter alterations and Parkinson disease groups.

Discussion: Our data suggest that heavy demands on executive control associated with the interruption of large-scale cortical-subcortical neural networks underlie impairment in clock drawing in mild dementia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Art
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / etiology*
  • Nerve Net
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Time Perception*
  • Writing