Cognitive Function in Normal Aging and Early Dementia

  • C. Flicker
  • S. H. Ferris
  • T. Crook
  • R. T. Bartus
  • B. Reisberg
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Applied Neurological Sciences book series (NEUROLOGICAL, volume 2)


Both normal aging and senile dementia are associated with a broad array of changes in cognitive function. The objective of this review is to identify and illustrate the most salient features of these changing psychological profiles. Table 1 is a summary of the effects of normal aging and mild to moderate senile dementia upon a variety of psychometric tests, with the test measures assigned to different theoretical categories of cognitive function. The utility of this approach is limited by a number of factors. First, the diffuse nature of the cognitive decline associated with aging and dementia makes it difficult to identify discrete cognitive abilities which are selectively impaired or intact. This problem is greatly magnified in the more advanced stages of senile dementia, where the global nature of the cognitive deterioration makes discrimination between affected and unaffected cognitive processes almost impossible. Virtually any cognitive test will elicit a significant performance decrement in severely demented as opposed to mildly demented subjects. The former subject group is not, therefore, included in Table 1 and this review will be restricted to studies of patients in only the early stages of senile dementia. A second problem with this approach is the relative lack of specificity of the psychometric tests. Since individual test results are normally dependent upon multiple cognitive abilities, it is difficult to attribute a lowered test score solely to a deficit in a particular cognitive function. Finally, the validity of the separate categories of cognitive function as theoretical psychological constructs has also not been adequately established.


Normal Aging Choice Reaction Time Senile Dementia Remote Memory Early Dementia 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Flicker
    • 1
  • S. H. Ferris
    • 1
  • T. Crook
    • 2
  • R. T. Bartus
    • 3
  • B. Reisberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryNew York University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Center for Study of Mental Health of the AgingNational Institute of Mental HealthRockvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of CNS Research, Medical Research Division of American Cyanamid CompanyLederle LaboratoriesPearl RiverUSA

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