The utility of the spatial span in a clinical geriatric population

Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2011 Jan;18(1):56-63. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2010.510556. Epub 2010 Sep 30.


Spatial Span subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale has been viewed as an indicator of working memory and visuospatial processing. The current study examined the impact of cognitive impairment and its severity on Spatial Span performance. A neuropsychological battery including Spatial Span was administered to 538 individuals (65-89) who were grouped by consensus into Alzheimer's disease, Vascular Dementia, Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment, Non-Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment and cognitively normal. Increase in level of impairment resulted in a decrease in Spatial Span Total Score. A weak relationship between age and Spatial Span Total Score was found. Spatial Span Forward remains relatively stable regardless of level of impairment. Spatial Span Backward was more sensitive to severity. No significant differences were found between individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and those with Vascular Dementia suggesting similar deficit patterns in the cognitive abilities measured by the Spatial Span. Mild Cognitive Impairment groups and normals did not differ suggesting visuospatial processes are not affected early in the dementing process.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dementia, Vascular / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Space Perception / physiology*