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CERAD test performances in amnestic mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease


Mira Karrasch, Department of Psychology, Åbo Akademi University, FIN-20500, Åbo, Finland
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Objectives –  The aim of the study was to examine the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease (CERAD) test performances cross-sectionally in patients suffering from amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and mild Alzheimer's disease (AD). Moreover, we wanted to determine the sensitivity to amnestic MCI and mild AD, as well as the specificity of different CERAD subtests in our study groups.

Material and methods –  Fifteen healthy elderly individuals, 15 amnestic MCI patients and 15 probable AD patients suffering from mild dementia were tested with the CERAD neurocognitive dementia screening test.

Results –  Significant differences were found in all CERAD tests except Constructional praxis (copy) and Clock drawing between the controls and the AD group. The MCI group was differentiated from the controls only in the Wordlist learning test. In the language tests the sensitivity to MCI and AD was quite low and the specificity very high. In the savings scores the sensitivity to AD was high, but the specificity rather low. The Wordlist recognition test screened no false positives using the current cut-off score and the sensitivity to AD was 0.6, but only one MCI patient was detected using the current cut-off score. Raising the cut-off score also raised the sensitivity to MCI without dramatic loss of specificity. Cut-off scores for the Wordlist learning test and Wordlist delayed recall, which have been found to differentiate normal aging from dementia, are lacking in the Finnish CERAD. The current data indicates that the Wordlist learning test might be relatively sensitive to MCI.

Conclusions –  The results indicate that the Finnish CERAD test battery with its current cut-off scores has low sensitivity to MCI, and using it as a sole cognitive screening instrument for MCI and preclinical dementia might result in false negatives.

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