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Naturalistic Action Performance Distinguishes Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment from Healthy Aging

  • David A. Gold (a1), Norman W. Park (a1), Kelly J. Murphy (a2) (a3) and Angela K. Troyer (a2) (a3)


Individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) show minor decrements in their instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Sensitive measures of IADL performance are needed to capture the mild difficulties observed in aMCI groups. Routine naturalistic actions (NAs) are familiar IADL-type activities that require individuals to enact everyday tasks such as preparing coffee. In the current study we examined the extent to which NAs could be used to help facilitate differential diagnosis of aMCI relative to composite measures of episodic memory, semantic knowledge, and executive function. Healthy older adults (n=24) and individuals with aMCI (n=24) enacted two highly familiar NAs and completed tests of episodic memory, semantic knowledge, and executive function. Binary logistic regression was used to predict group membership (aMCI vs. control participants). The regression analyses indicated that NA performance could reliably predict group membership, over and above measures of cognitive functioning. These findings indicated that NA performance can be used to help facilitate differential diagnosis of healthy aging and aMCI and used as an outcome measure in intervention studies. (JINS, 2015, 21, 419–428)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: David Gold, Krembil Neuroscience Centre, University Health Network, Toronto Western Hospital, Neuropsychology Clinic, 4F-409, 399 Bathurst St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 2S8. E-mail:


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