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J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(3):613-21. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-112201.

Independent deficits of visual word and motion processing in aging and early Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642-0673, USA.


We tested whether visual processing impairments in aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) reflect uniform posterior cortical decline, or independent disorders of visual processing for reading and navigation. Young and older normal controls were compared to early AD patients using psychophysical measures of visual word and motion processing. We find elevated perceptual thresholds for letters and word discrimination from young normal controls, to older normal controls, to early AD patients. Across subject groups, visual motion processing showed a similar pattern of increasing thresholds, with the greatest impact on radial pattern motion perception. Combined analyses show that letter, word, and motion processing impairments are independent of each other. Aging and AD may be accompanied by independent impairments of visual processing for reading and navigation. This suggests separate underlying disorders and highlights the need for comprehensive evaluations to detect early deficits.

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