Predicting progression to Alzheimer’s disease in subjects with amnestic mild cognitive impairment using performance on recall and recognition tests

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The research of reliable procedures for predicting cognitive decline or stability in persons with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI) is a major goal for the early identification of subjects in the prodromal stages of dementia. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether different memory performances on two procedures commonly used for the neuropsychological assessment of episodic memory (i.e., free recall and recognition) might be a key in predicting a-MCI patients’ subsequent progression to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). For this purpose, 80 patients diagnosed with a-MCI at the first assessment and followed-up for at least 3 years were included. During this time, 41 subjects remained in a stable condition of cognitive impairment or improved (stable-MCI) and 39 patients converted to AD dementia (converter-MCI). Sixty-two age- and education-matched healthy individuals were also recruited as healthy controls (HC). Baseline memory performance on the free recall (5th immediate and 15-min delayed) and yes/no recognition (the sensitivity measure d′) of a 15-word list were analyzed. Results showed that stable-MCIs forgot significantly more information from immediate to delayed recall of the word list than HC, but exhibited a pronounced improvement of memory performance in the recognition test format. On the contrary, converter-MCIs showed diminished sensitivity in benefiting from cues for recognizing studied words. Word list recognition correctly classified group membership with good overall accuracy, which was higher compared to the classification of converter and stable a-MCIs provided by free recall; therefore, it could be a useful diagnostic tool for predicting progression to AD dementia from the prodromal stage.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Conversion
  • Memory tests
  • Mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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