Neuropsychological predictors of conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease

Guido Gainotti, Davide Quaranta, Maria Gabriella Vita, Camillo Marra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The construct of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has been proposed to identify patients at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) in the pre-clinical stage. Although subjects with MCI have an increased risk of progressing to dementia, most remain stable or return to normality. The new criteria for diagnosing prodromal AD assume that, to increase the predictive value of the MCI, in addition to a defect of delayed recall there must also be the presence of abnormal biomarkers, investigating structural and molecular neuroimaging and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis of amyloid-β or tau proteins. Although acknowledging that the use of CSF degeneration biomarkers is advisable not only for research, but also for clinical purposes, the present review is centered upon the neuropsychological markers of conversion to AD, which are equally clinically important. In particular, results of this review suggest the following: (a) measures of delayed recall are the best neuropsychological predictors of conversion from MCI to AD; (b) memory tests providing controlled encoding and cued recall are not necessarily better predictors than free recall tests; (c) stringent cut-off points are necessary to increase the specificity of these predictors; (d) multi-domain amnestic MCI patients are the best candidates for clinical trials, but not for treatment with disease-modifying drugs; and (e) not only episodic but also semantic memory is significantly impaired in patients who will convert to AD. These data and the underlying neural mechanisms will be discussed, trying to distinguish results obtained in MCI patients from those obtained in a pre-MCI stage of the AD progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-495
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Delayed recall
  • episodic memory
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • neuropsychology
  • semantic memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Psychology

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