Subcortical dementia revisited: similarities and differences in cognitive function between progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA)

Neurocase. 2005 Aug;11(4):268-73. doi: 10.1080/13554790590962997.


To examine the similarities and differences in cognitive function between three predominantly subcortical dementing disorders associated with parkinsonism we compared the profiles of cognitive performance in 39 patients with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), 26 patients with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and 25 with Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) with those of 30 patients with classic cortical dementia, Alzheimer's Disease (AD), using two different cognitive screening tests: Dementia Rating Scale (DRS) and Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination (ACE). The cognitive profile on ACE and DRS subtests distinguished subcortical diseases from each other as well as from AD. All parkinsonian syndromes were characterized by a disproportionate impairment in verbal fluency, particularly letter fluency. The three diseases differed, however, in the degree of language, memory and visuospatial impairment. We conclude that similarities, as well as differences, between PSP, MSA and CBD can be detected using a brief, clinically applicable cognitive screening test. The pattern of cognitive impairment is likely to reflect a different distribution of pathology, in particular a higher degree of cortical involvement in PSP and CBD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition Disorders / classification
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple System Atrophy / physiopathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / physiopathology*