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May 1, 1991

Severity and specificity of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and Parkinson's diseases and progressive supranuclear palsy

May 1991 issue
41 (5) 634-643


To investigate differences in severity and specificity of cognitive impairment among various neuro‐degenerative diseases, we tested groups of patients presenting with senile dementia of the Alzheimer type (SDAT; 44), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP; 45), Huntington's disease (HD; 35) and Parkinson's disease (PD; 164), with an extensive neuropsychological battery. We found dementia, as defined by a global intellectual performance 2 standard deviations lower than mean control values, in 93% of SDAT, 66% of HD, 58% of PSP, and 18% of PD patients. Specific features of cognitive impairment distinguished the four groups of patients once they were matched for level of intellectual deterioration: remote memory and linguistic disorders in SDAT, frontal lobe‐like abnormalities in PSP, concentration and acquisition disorders in HD. There was no specific alteration in demented PD patients. This study demonstrates the frequency of dementia in predominantly subcortical degenerative diseases and indicates that “subcortical dementia,” rather than being a homogeneous entity, should be divided into specific subtypes of cognitive impairment related to different underlying specific lesions of each disease.
NEUROLOGY 1991;41:634‐643

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Published In

Volume 41Number 5May 1991
Pages: 634-643
PubMed: 1827513

Publication History

Published online: May 1, 1991
Published in print: May 1991


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Affiliations & Disclosures


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Bernard Pillon, INSERM U 289 and Service de Neurologie et Neuropsychologie, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, 47, Bd de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cédex 13, France.

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