A broad memory test battery (reflecting explicit and implicit memory functioning) was administered to a heterogeneous sample of initially nondemented, community-dwelling elderly subjects. To examine the profile of preclinical dementia, subjects were tested twice: At baseline, all subjects were nondemented according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria; 2 years later, a subgroup had developed dementia. Performance of the preclinically demented subjects was best characterized, relative to that of cognitively impaired subjects who did not develop dementia 2 years later, by an inability to benefit at recall from semantic relations and by absent repetition priming effects. The authors conclude that in addition to testing episodic memory functioning, it is important to be aware of semantic and implicit memory deficits in the early assessment of dementia.
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