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Attention deficits in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia


Objective To compare the performance of patients with mild–moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD) on tests of information processing and attention.

Method Patients with AD (n=75) and VaD (n=46) were recruited from a memory clinic along with dementia-free participants (n=28). They underwent specific tests of attention from the Cognitive Drug Research battery, and pen and paper tests including Colour Trails A and B and Stroop. All patients had a CT brain scan that was independently scored for white-matter change/ischaemia.

Results Attention was impaired in both AD and VaD patients. VaD patients had more impaired choice reaction times and were less accurate on a vigilance test measuring sustained attention. Deficits in selective and divided attention occurred in both patient groups and showed the strongest correlations with Mini Mental State Examination scores.

Conclusion This study demonstrates problems with the attentional network in mild–moderate AD and VaD. The authors propose that attention should be tested routinely in a memory clinic setting.

  • Attention
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • information processing
  • reaction time
  • vascular dementia

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