Human figure drawing distinguishes Alzheimer’s patients: a cognitive screening test study

Michelangelo Stanzani Maserati, Renato D’Onofrio, Corrado Matacena, Luisa Sambati, Federico Oppi, Roberto Poda, Maddalena De Matteis, Ilaria Naldi, Rocco Liguori, Sabina Capellari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To study human figure drawing in a group of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients and compare it with a group of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and controls. We evaluated consecutive outpatients over a one-year period. Patients were classified as affected by AD or by MCI. All patients and controls underwent a simplified version of the human-figure drawing test and MMSE. A qualitative and quantitative analysis of all human figures was obtained. 112 AD, 100 MCI patients and 104 controls were enrolled. AD patients drew human figures poor in details and globally smaller than MCI patients and controls. Human figures drawn by MCI patients are intermediate in body height between those of the AD patients and the healthy subjects. The head-to-body ratio of human figures drawn by AD patients is greater than controls and MCI patients, while the human figure size-relative-to-page space index is significantly smaller. Body height is an independent predictor of cognitive impairment correlating with its severity and with the number of the figure's details. Human figures drawn by AD patients are different from those drawn by healthy subjects and MCI patients. Human figure drawing test is a useful tool for orienting cognitive impairment's diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-855
Number of pages5
JournalNeurological Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2018


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Human figure drawing
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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