Background. Dementia screening instruments, such as the Cambridge Cognitive Examination
(CAMCOG), measure a variety of cognitive functions. However, memory impairment generally is
the first sign of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It seems logical, therefore, to use only memory-related
items for the early detection of AD. We divided the CAMCOG into a memory section and a non-memory section, and tested the hypothesis that the memory section predicts AD better than the
non-memory section. We also provide normative data for both sections.
Methods. Normal subjects (N = 169) and patients with incident AD (i.e. satisfying AD criteria
between 1 and 3 years from baseline; N = 25) were participants in the Amsterdam Study of the
Elderly (AMSTEL), a population-based longitudinal study on cognitive decline and dementia.
Patients with prevalent AD (i.e. satisfying AD criteria at baseline; N = 155) were either recruited
in a memory clinic or came from AMSTEL. Normal subjects were cognitively intact at baseline and
remained so for at least 3 years. The CAMCOG was administered to all subjects. AD was diagnosed
by DSM-III-R criteria.
Results. Logistic regression analysis showed that the memory section was related to prevalent AD,
whereas in multivariate analysis the non-memory section was not (after correction for the memory
score and demographic characteristics). A similar analysis showed that the memory section
predicted incident AD, as did a higher score on the non-memory section. The MMSE did not
predict incident AD better than age alone.
Conclusion. For the early detection of AD it is best to use the memory and non-memory sections
separately instead of the total CAMCOG score.