Do differences in visuospatial ability between senile dementias of the Alzheimer and Lewy body types reflect differences solely in mnemonic function?

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1995 Feb;17(1):35-43. doi: 10.1080/13803399508406579.


Visuospatial memory was investigated in two groups of patients suffering from senile dementias of the Alzheimer (SDAT) or Lewy body (SDLT) types; a, third, age-matched, healthy control group was also included. The two patient groups were mildly demented and could not be distinguished from each other by traditional tests of cognitive function. A different pattern of performance emerged in the two groups on a computerised test of spatial working memory, which is a self-ordered pointing task requiring the subject to search for hidden tokens. An analysis of the pattern of errors revealed that the SDLT group made more of both possible types of error ("Within Search" and "Between Search") than the SDAT group. Neither patient groups' performance differed from each other when assessed on a computerised Corsi spatial span task. A measure of planning ability was obtained by examining search strategies. Although an index previously developed to measure the subject's use of a particular strategy in the spatial working memory task failed to detect any differences between the three groups, a novel index was calculated which focuses on performance within a search, and this revealed deficits in both demented groups. Since the two patient groups differed from each other in the spatial working memory, but not the Corsi spatial span, task, it is suggested that the differences between the two demented groups are not due to a specific mnemonic impairment, but reflect dysfunctions in non-mnemonic processes mediated by fronto-subcortical circuits, which are more severely damaged in SDLT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Psychometrics
  • Space Perception*
  • Task Performance and Analysis