Differentiating Alzheimer's disease from subcortical vascular dementia with the FAB test

J Neurol. 2006 Nov;253(11):1490-4. doi: 10.1007/s00415-006-0251-7. Epub 2006 Oct 13.


Background: The frontal assessment battery (FAB) test is a composite tool for assessing executive functions related to the frontal lobe. Neuropsychological and blood-flow studies indicate distinct patterns of deterioration of anterior and posterior cortical function in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and subcortical vascular dementia (VD) patients. We predict that the FAB score may be useful for discriminating VD from AD.

Objective: To evaluate the clinical usefulness of the FAB test for differential diagnosis of AD and VD.

Methods: We compared FAB scores in 25 patients with AD, 27 patients with VD, and 80 age-matched normal control subjects. The AD group was matched for age, education and MMSE score with the VD group. The subtest scores in FAB were also compared among the three groups.

Results: The FAB scores were significantly decreased in both the AD and VD groups compared to the control group, and the reduction were greater in the VD group. Among the FAB subtests, mental flexibility (phonological verbal fluency) was the only subtest that significantly discriminated VD from the other two groups.

Conclusions: The FAB test can provide useful information for differentiating AD and VD at the bedside.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Dementia, Vascular / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity