Neuropsychological assessment of dementia

Annu Rev Psychol. 2009;60:257-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190024.


Neuropsychological studies show that cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) are distinct from age-associated cognitive decline. Quantitative and qualitative differences are apparent across many cognitive domains, but are especially obvious in episodic memory (particularly delayed recall), semantic knowledge, and some aspects of executive functions. The qualitatively distinct pattern of deficits is less salient in very old AD patients than in younger AD patients. Although decline in episodic memory is usually the earliest cognitive change that occurs prior to the development of the AD dementia syndrome, asymmetry in cognitive abilities may also occur in this "preclinical" phase of the disease and predict imminent dementia. Discrete patterns of cognitive deficits occur in AD and several neuropathologically distinct age-associated neurodegenerative disorders. Knowledge of these differences helps to clinically distinguish among various causes of dementia and provides useful models for understanding brain-behavior relationships that mediate cognitive abilities affected in various neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology