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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2006 Mar;19(1):13-5.

Beneficial effect of cholinesterase inhibitor medications on recognition memory performance in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: preliminary findings.

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Roskamp Institute Memory Clinic, Tampa, Florida 33617, USA.


Cholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) medications (ie, donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) have been useful in slowing the progression of the mild to moderate stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Findings supporting this have largely relied on a global error score from the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale and have not described the nature of the memory problems. We examined this issue by comparing learning, recall, and recognition scores among 2 groups of mild to moderately demented AD patients. Participants were patients from a memory clinic who either were on ChEI treatment (AD+ChEI, n = 14) or had never taken a ChEI (AD-ChEI, n = 14). Participants underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, including administration of the CERAD Word List Memory test. Results indicated no significant group difference for learning and delayed free recall, but the AD+ChEI group had significantly fewer errors than the AD-ChEI group on the CERAD Recognition test. Our findings provide preliminary evidence that the aspect of memory that is most affected by ChEIs appears to be facilitation of retention of new information in memory. The implications of this on clinical care and functional abilities as well as future directions are discussed.

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