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Dual task performance in early Alzheimer's disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment and depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2008

J. A. Lonie
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
K. M. Tierney
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
L. L. Herrmann
Affiliation:
University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK
C. Donaghey
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
R. E. O'Carroll
Affiliation:
University of Stirling Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
A. Lee
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
K. P. Ebmeier*
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh Division of Psychiatry, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK
*
*Address for correspondence: Professor K. P. Ebmeier, University of Oxford, Section of Old Age Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. (Email: Klaus.ebmeier@psych.ox.ac.uk)

Abstract

Background

The dual task paradigm (Baddeley et al.1986; Della Sala et al.1995) has been proposed as a sensitive measure of Alzheimer's dementia, early in the disease process.

Method

We investigated this claim by administering the modified dual task paradigm (utilising a pencil-and-paper version of a tracking task) to 33 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 10 with very early Alzheimer's disease, as well as 21 healthy elderly subjects and 17 controls with depressive symptoms. All groups were closely matched for age and pre-morbid intellectual ability.

Results

There were no group differences in dual task performance, despite poor performance in episodic memory tests of the aMCI and early Alzheimer's disease groups. In contrast, the Alzheimer patients were specifically impaired in the trail-making test B, another commonly used test of divided attention.

Conclusions

The dual task paradigm lacks sensitivity for use in the early differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Cambridge University Press

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