Visuospatial memory and neuroimaging correlates in mild cognitive impairment

Micaela Mitolo, Simona Gardini, Fabrizio Fasano, Girolamo Crisi, Annalisa Pelosi, Francesca Pazzaglia, Paolo Caffarra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial abilities decline in normal aging and decrease faster and earlier in Alzheimer's disease (AD), but these deficits are under investigated. The main goals of this study were to assess visuospatial memory abilities in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in order to verify whether these tasks might be valid as the standard cognitive test to differentiate MCI individuals from normal controls and to investigate the brain structural correlates of visuospatial deficits. Twenty MCI patients and fourteen healthy elderly controls underwent an experimental visuospatial battery, which also included self-rating spatial questionnaires, and structural MRI brain imaging. Compared to healthy elderly controls, MCI patients scored significantly worse in almost all visuospatial tasks. ROC analysis showed that visuospatial tasks had an elevated discriminant power between groups (AUC >0.90). Voxel-based morphometry analysis, compared to controls, disclosed a higher level of atrophy in frontal and medio-temporal regions and a different pattern of correlation between grey matter values and visuospatial performance, with wider distributed areas of the occipital and middle temporal cortex in the map and route learning. This study indicates that visuospatial memory tests are valid tools in completing the diagnostic evaluation of MCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-90
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • spatial navigation
  • visuospatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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