Cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's dementia, and vascular dementia: the role of the clock-drawing test

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AIM: Cognitive impairment is present in several neurodegenerative disorders. The clock-drawing test (CDT) represents a useful screening instrument for assessing the evolution of cognitive decline. The aim of this study was to investigate the sensitivity of the CDT in monitoring and differentiating the evolution of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's dementia (AD), vascular dementia (VaD), and Parkinson's disease (PD).

METHODS: This study involved 139 patients, including 39 patients with PD and mild cognitive impairment, 16 demented PD patients, 21 VaD patients with mild cognitive impairment, 17 patients with VaD, 33 patients with mild cognitive impairment due to AD, and 13 patients with probable AD. All participants completed the CDT. The Mini-Mental State Examination was administered to establish patients' cognitive functioning.

RESULTS: Comparisons of quantitative and qualitative CDT scores showed significant differences between the various diseases. Impairment of executive functioning seems to be more pronounced in PD and VaD than in AD. Patients with AD committed more errors related to a loss of semantic knowledge, indicating a severely reduced capacity in abstract and conceptual thinking.

CONCLUSION: Results support the usefulness and sensitivity of the CDT in the detection of different dementia subtypes. Qualitative error analysis of the CDT may be helpful in differentiating PD, VaD, and AD, even in the early stages of each disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease/diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/diagnosis
  • Dementia, Vascular/diagnosis
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment/methods
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Parkinson Disease/diagnosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales


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