Background: We investigated the viability of psychometrically robust executive function measures as markers for premanifest Huntington's disease (HD).
Methods: Fifteen premanifest HD subjects and 42 controls were compared on the NIH EXAMINER executive function battery. This battery yields an overall executive composite score, plus working memory, cognitive control, and fluency scores that are measured on psychometrically matched scales. The scores were correlated with two disease markers, disease burden and striatal volumes, in the premanifest HD subjects.
Results: The premanifest HD subjects scored significantly lower on the working memory score. The executive composite positively correlated with striatal volumes, and the working memory score negatively correlated with disease burden. The cognitive control and fluency scores did not differ between the groups or correlate significantly with the disease markers.
Conclusions: The NIH EXAMINER executive composite and working memory scores are sensitive markers of cognitive dysfunction, striatal volume, and disease burden in premanifest HD.
Keywords: Huntington's disease; disease burden; executive function; striatal volume; working memory.
© 2013 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.