Differential performance of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia patients on a brief battery of neuropsychological tests.


The purpose of this article was to examine the differences in neuropsychological test performance between groups with Alzheimer's and vascular dementia. Patients included in this study were those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) or Vascular Dementia (VAD) through a series of neuroradiological tests that included at a minimum a CT or MRI scan and a SPECT scan. Of the 113 AD patients, the average age was 80.08 (SD = 5.91) years and average education was 12.85 (SD = 2.88). Of the 109 VAD patients, average age was 78.67 (SD = 5.35) and average education was 13.10 (SD = 2.65). Tests included selected subtests of the WAIS-R, Word Fluency, Rey Figure, Boston Naming Test, Math, Reading, and subtests from the WMS-R. Five tests showed significant differences in favor of the VAD group: Information, Similarities, Picture Completion, WRAT Mathematics, and the Boston Naming Test. Both groups did well on Reading, while both did poorly on the Rey and Word Fluency. Although both groups did poorly on memory measures, the VAD patients showed better performance. Overall, the two groups did not differ significantly on the more complex tests, but did differ on more basic tests and all the memory tests. This pattern of similar score on complex tests and different scores on basic tests demonstrates the theory that both types of dementia affected higher, more complex skills. Differences between the groups were only apparent when basic skills were compared and were not reflected in more complex and neuropsychologically "sensitive" tests.