Background. "Posterior shift" of the neuropathological changes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) produces a syndrome (posterior cortical atrophy) (PCA) dominated by high-level visual deficits. Objective. To explore in patients with AD-type pathology whether a data-driven analysis (cluster analysis) based on neuropsychological findings resulted in the emergence of different subgroups of patients; in particular to find out whether it was possible to identify patients with visuospatial deficits consistent with the hypothesis that PCA is a "dorsal stream" syndrome or, rather, whether there were subgroups of patients with different types of impairment within the high-level visual domain. Methods. 23 PCA and 16 DAT patients were studied. By a principal component analysis performed on a wide range of neuropsychological tasks, 15 variables were obtained that loaded onto five main factors (memory, language, perceptual, visuospatial, and calculation) which entered a hierarchical cluster analysis. Results. Four clusters of cognitive impairment emerged: visuospatial/perceptual, memory, perceptual/calculation, and language. Only in the first cluster a visuospatial deficit clearly emerged. Conclusions. AD pathology produces not only variants dominated by memory (DAT) and, to a lesser extent, visuospatial deficit (PCA), but also other distinct syndromic subtypes with disorders in visual perception and language which reflect a different vulnerability of specific functional networks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Clinical Neurology