Luria's three-step test: what is it and what does it tell us?

Int Psychogeriatr. 2011 Dec;23(10):1602-6. doi: 10.1017/S1041610211000767. Epub 2011 May 4.


Background: The purpose of this study is to determine if the three-step Luria test is useful for differentiating between cognitive disorders.

Methods: A retrospective record review of performance on the three-step Luria test was conducted on 383 participants from a university-based dementia clinic. The participants ranged in their diagnosis from frontotemporal dementia (FTD; n = 43), Alzheimer disease (AD; n = 153), mild cognitive impairment (MCI; n = 56), and normal controls (NC; n = 131). Performance of the Luria test was graded as normal or abnormal.

Results: An abnormal test occurred in 2.3% of NC, 21.4% of MCI, 69.8% of FTD, and 54.9% of AD subjects. The frequency of abnormal tests in all diagnostic groups increased with functional impairment as assessed by the Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR). When CDR = 3 (severe), 100% of the FTD and 72.2% of the AD subjects had abnormal Luria tests.

Conclusions: The three-step Luria test distinguished NC and persons with MCI from FTD and AD, but did not distinguish FTD from AD subjects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies