Contributions of neuropsychology and neuroimaging to understanding clinical subtypes of mild cognitive impairment

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2009;84:81-103. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(09)00405-X.


The original conceptualization of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was primarily as an amnestic disorder representing an intermediate stage between normal aging and Alzheimer's dementia (AD). More recently, broader conceptualizations of MCI have emerged that also encompass cognitive domains other than memory. These characterizations delineate clinical subtypes that commonly include amnestic and non-amnestic forms, and that involve single and multiple cognitive domains. With the advent of these broader classifications, more specific information is emerging regarding the neuropsychological presentation of individuals with MCI, risk for dementia associated with different subtypes of MCI, and neuropathologic substrates connected to the clinical subtypes. This review provides an overview of this burgeoning literature specific to clinical subtypes of MCI. Focus is primarily on neuropsychological and structural neuroimaging findings specific to clinical subtypes of MCI as well as the issue of daily functioning. Although investigations of non-amnestic subtypes using advanced neuroimaging techniques and clinical trials are quite limited, we briefly review these topics in MCI because these data provide a framework for future investigations specifically examining additional clinical subtypes of MCI. Finally, the review comments on select methodological issues involved in studying this heterogeneous population, and future directions to continue to improve our understanding of MCI and its clinical subtypes are offered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / classification*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / therapy
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychology / methods*