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J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;23(1):79-85. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-100990.

Impact of executive dysfunction on verbal memory performance in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO), Buenos Aires, Argentina Institute of Neurosciences Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


It is currently accepted that there is a subset of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD) who show executive functioning (EF) impairments even in the earlier stages. These patients have been shown to present distinct psychiatric, behavioral, occupational, and even histopathological profiles. We assessed thirty patients with AD on two tasks of verbal memory (Logical Memory - LM, and the Rey Auditory-Verbal Learning Task - RAVLT), as well as classical tests of EF. AD patients were classified into either a spared EF (SEF) group if they showed impaired performance (z < -1.5 SD) in none or only one of the executive tests, or into an impaired EF (IEF) group if they showed impaired performance on two or more tasks of EF. Their performance was compared with fourteen healthy controls. SEF showed significantly more years of education than IEF, but the groups did not differ significantly on age, gender, mood symptoms, or performance on general screening tests or attentional tasks. With education as a covariate, both AD groups differed from controls on all measures of memory, but a significant difference was found between SEF and IEF patients only on the recognition phases of both logical memory (p < 0.01) and RAVLT (p = 0.02). Recognition scores significantly correlated with performance on executive tasks. Early AD patients who preserve their EF seem to have an advantage in their ability to recognize information that has been previously presented over patients with impaired EF. Such advantage seems to be strongly associated with executive performance.

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