Dementia Apraxia Test (DATE): A Brief Tool to Differentiate Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia from Alzheimer's Dementia Based on Apraxia Profiles

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(3):593-605. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150447.


Background: Standardized praxis assessments with modern, empirically validated screening tests have substantially improved clinical evaluation of apraxia in patients with stroke. Although apraxia may contribute to early differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia (AD) and behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), no comparable test is readily available to clinicians for this purpose to date.

Objective: To design a clinically useful apraxia test for the differentiation of AD and bvFTD.

Methods: 84 test items pertaining to twelve praxis subdomains were evaluated for their efficacy to discriminate between patients with bvFTD (n = 24), AD (n = 28), and elderly healthy controls (HC; n = 35). Items were then selected based on discriminative value and psychometric properties.

Results: Items indicative of mild AD comprised spatially complex imitation of hand and finger postures and to a lesser degree, pantomime of common object-use. Buccofacial apraxia including imitation of face postures, emblematic face postures, and repetition of multisyllabic pseudowords differentiated bvFTD from HC and AD. The final test version consisting of 20 items proved highly efficient for the discrimination of biologically confirmed dementia patients from HC (sensitivity 91% , specificity 71%) but also for differential diagnosis of bvFTD and AD (sensitivity 74% , specificity 93%).

Conclusions: Assessment of praxis profiles effectively contributes to diagnosis and differential diagnosis of AD and bvFTD. The Dementia Apraxia Test (DATE) is a brief and easy to administer cognitive tool for dementia assessment, has a high inter-rater reliability (Cohen's κ= 0.885) and demonstrates content validity.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s dementia; Apraxia; differential diagnosis; frontotemporal dementia; neuropsychological tests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / complications*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Apraxias / diagnosis*
  • Apraxias / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values