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Social distancing to limit COVID-19 transmission has led to extensive lifestyle changes, including for people with dementia (PWD). The aim of this study, therefore, was to assess the impact of lockdown on the mental health of PWD and their carers.
Forty-five carers of PWD completed a telephone interview during the baseline assessment of the SOLITUDE study to gather information on life conditions and changes in symptoms of PWD during lockdown. Associations between changes in symptoms of PWD and carers’ concerns and mental health were investigated.
About 44% of carers experienced anxiety and irritability and reported changes in behavioural and cognitive symptoms in PWD. These changes were associated with worse carers’ mental health and concerns about faster disease progression (χ2 = 13.542, p < 0.001).
COVID-19-related social isolation has had a negative impact on patients’ and carers’ mental health. Potential long-term neurocognitive consequences require further investigation.
Patients with functional memory disorder (FMD) report significant memory failures in everyday life. Differentiating these patients from those with memory difficulties due to early stage neurodegenerative conditions is clinically challenging. The current study explored whether distinctive neuropsychological profiles could be established, suitable to differentiate patients with FMD from healthy individuals and those experiencing amnestic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI).
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of FMD were compared with patients with a-MCI, and healthy matched controls on several tests assessing different cognitive functions. Patients with clinically established mood disorders were excluded. Patients with FMD and a-MCI were broadly comparable on the level of their subjective memory complaints as assessed by clinical interview.
The neuropsychological profile of the FMD patients, although they expressed subjective memory and attention concerns during their clinical interview was distinct from patients with a-MCI on tests of memory [semantic fluency, age of acquisition (AoA) analysis of semantic fluency, verbal and non-verbal memory]. FMD patients did not differ significantly from healthy controls, but their scores on the letter fluency and digit cancellation tasks were not significantly different from those of the a-MCI patients indicating a possible sub-threshold deficit on these tasks.
Whilst subjective complaints are common within the FMD population, no objective impairment could be detected, even on a sensitive battery of tasks designed to detect subtle deficits caused by an early neurodegenerative brain disease. This study indicates that FMD patients can be successfully differentiated from patients with neurodegenerative memory decline by characterising their neuropsychological profile.
Stewart G, McGeown WJ, Shanks MF, Venneri A. Anosognosia for memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease.
To investigate whether patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) were able to alter their awareness of memory deficits after exposure to a memory task.
Thirty normal older adults and 23 mild AD patients participated in the study. Anosognosia was assessed using discrepancies between self- and informant-evaluations of cognitive and functional performance. Participants estimated their performance on the Verbal Paired Associates task at different points in time (before, immediately after the task and after a 1-h delay).
AD patients were generally less able to judge their memory abilities than healthy older adults, and tended to overestimate their task performance beforehand. Their prediction accuracy increased immediately after the task, but after a 1-h delay, they again misjudged their abilities at pretesting accuracy levels. Self-carer discrepancy scores of awareness of deficits in memory and other areas correlated significantly with memory tests but not with other neuropsychological tasks in the assessment, and larger discrepancy scores were associated with poorer performance.
AD patients can monitor their task performance online, but are unable to maintain awareness of their deficits over time. Loss of awareness of memory deficits (or of any other deficits) in early stage AD may indicate damage to a system which updates a personal knowledge base with recent information. Failure to retain this information impedes abstraction from episodic to semantic memory.
The present study investigated the attentional bias induced by drug-related stimuli in active abusers; abstinent abusers on opioid substitution therapy; and abstinent drug-dependent patients in recovery on a community-based non-pharmacological therapy programme. Drug-dependent groups included both cocaine and heroin abusers.
Classical and emotional Stroop tasks were used to test all drug-dependent patients and controls with no history of addiction. Response times were recorded. An interference effect was obtained by comparing the congruent and incongruent conditions in the classical Stroop version. An attentional bias towards drug cues was derived by comparing latencies in the neutral and emotional conditions of the emotional Stroop.
No between-group differences were found in the classical Stroop. In the emotional Stroop, active drug-dependent patients showed higher attentional bias (i.e. longer response times to drug-related words) than any of the other three groups.
The attentional bias induced by drug cues in patients with addiction disorder might change depending on the patients' clinical status. All treated patients, whether on opioid substitution therapy or on community therapy, showed less attentional bias towards drug-related stimuli than active drug users, although the observed smaller bias was most likely induced by therapy acting through different mechanisms. Although drug-cues response is influenced by other multiple variables, e.g. motivation, craving, classical conditioning and substance availability, these data lend support to the hypothesis that treatment might contribute to decrease the attentional bias towards drug cues, which seems to play a critical role in achieving a positive outcome in the treatment of addiction.
This study aims to document the nature and progression of the spontaneous writing impairment observed in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) over a 12-month period using both a cross-sectional and prospective longitudinal design.
Thirty-one minimal–moderate AD patients and 30 controls matched for age and socio-cultural background completed a simple and complex written description task at baseline. The AD patients then had follow-up assessments at 6 and 12 months.
Cross-sectional comparisons indicated that minimal–moderate AD patients produced more semantic paraphasias, phonological paraphasias, and empty and indefinite phrases, whilst producing fewer pictorial themes, repairing fewer errors, and producing shorter and less complex sentences than controls. The two groups could not be distinguished on visual paraphasias. Longitudinal follow-up, however, suggested that visual processing deteriorates over time, where the prevalence of visual errors increased over 12 months.
The findings suggest that the deterioration of writing skills observed in the spontaneous writings of AD patients shows a pattern of impairment dominated by semantic errors with a secondary impairment in phonological processing, which is later joined by a disruption of visuospatial and graphomotor processing.
This study aims to document the nature and progression of spontaneous speech impairment suffered by patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) over a 12-month period, using both cross-sectional and prospective longitudinal design.
Thirty one mild–moderate AD patients and 30 controls matched for age and socio-cultural background completed a simple and complex oral description task at baseline. The AD patients then underwent follow-up assessments at 6 and 12 months.
Cross-sectional comparisons indicated that mild–moderate AD patients produced more word-finding delays (WFDs) and empty and indefinite phrases, while producing fewer pictorial themes, repairing fewer errors, responding to fewer WFDs, produce shorter and less complex phrases and produce speech with less intonational contour than controls. However, the two groups could not be distinguished on the basis of phonological paraphasias. Longitudinal follow-up, however, suggested that phonological processing deteriorates over time, where the prevalence of phonological errors increased over 12 months.
Consistent with findings from neuropsychological, neuropathological and neuroimaging studies, the language deterioration shown by the AD patients shows a pattern of impairment dominated by semantic errors, which is later joined by a disruption in the phonological aspects of speech.
This study characterized the relationship between apolipoprotein E (APOE) status and residual semantic abilities in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI). APOE status (ε4 carrier/non ε4 carrier) was determined in 30 amnestic MCIs and in 22 healthy matched non ε4 carrier controls. The lexical characteristics (age of acquisition, typicality, familiarity) of words produced in a category fluency task were determined. MCIs produced fewer words than controls and these were also earlier acquired and more familiar. The words produced by MCI ε4 carriers were earlier acquired than those of non ε4 carriers. Analyses limited to the first 10 words produced by patients and controls showed similar findings and also revealed that MCI subgroups retrieved first more typical words than controls. Follow up showed higher conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD) in MCI ε4 carriers than in non ε4 carriers. These findings show that a significant proportion of phenotype variability in performance on category fluency in people at increased AD risk is influenced by genetic factors. These findings explain why category fluency deficits, together with episodic memory deficits, are the only consistent early deficits in MCI patients who convert to AD. (JINS, 2011, 17, 423–430)
Performance on some neuropsychological tests is best expressed as an
intra-individual measure of association (such as a parametric or
non-parametric correlation coefficient or the slope of a regression
line). Examples of the use of intra-individual measures of association
(IIMAs) include the quantification of performance on tests designed to
assess temporal order memory or the accuracy of time estimation. The
present paper presents methods for comparing a patient's
performance with a control or normative sample when performance is
expressed as an IIMA. The methods test if there is a significant
difference between a patient's IIMA and those obtained from
controls, yield an estimate of the abnormality of the patient's
IIMA, and provide confidence limits on the level of abnormality. The
methods can be used with normative or control samples of any size and
will therefore be of particular relevance to single-case researchers. A
method for comparing the difference between a patient's scores on
two measures with the differences observed in controls is also
described (one or both measures can be IIMAs). All the methods require
only summary statistics (rather than the raw data from the normative or
control sample); it is hoped that this feature will encourage the
development of norms for tasks that use IIMAs to quantify performance.
Worked examples of the statistical methods are provided using data from
a clinical case and controls. A computer program (for PCs) that
implements the methods is described and made available. (JINS,
2003, 9, 989–1000.)
Memory deficits are frequently observed in schizophrenia but
their intrinsic characteristics have not been clarified. We
studied remote memory in a group of 20 schizophrenics and 20
healthy age and education matched controls using a newly devised
public event questionnaire (PEQ) that employs a free recall,
progressive cueing and recognition protocol and requires dating
of events. Results indicate that patients with chronic
schizophrenia perform significantly more poorly on the PEQ than
a group of age and education matched controls both in terms
of content and dating of events. The number of events recalled
does not improve with progressive cuing or recognition. No
distinctive pattern was observed in their temporal gradient.
There was no significant difference in content scores for pre-
and post-onset events in the schizophrenics. These findings
indicate that remote memory deficits in chronic schizophrenics
arise from deficient encoding rather than from a retrieval deficit
secondary to executive dysfunction. (JINS, 2002,
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