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Innovation in Aging




Background and Objective: Prior research with patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) suggests that visual versus verbal episodic memory test performance may be more sensitive to emergent illness. However, little research has examined visual versus verbal episodic memory performance as related to MCI subtypes.

Research Design and Methods: Patients were diagnosed with non-MCI, amnestic MCI (aMCI), and combined mixed/dysexecutive MCI (mixed/dys MCI). Visual and verbal episodic memory were assessed with the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised (BVMT-R) and the 12-word Philadelphia (repeatable) Verbal Learning Test (P[r]VLT), respectively.

Results: BVMT-R and P(r)VLT scores yielded similar between-group patterns of performance. Non-MCI patients scored better than other groups on all parameters. aMCI and mixed/dys MCI did not differ on immediate or delayed free recall. Both delayed BVMT-R and P(r)VLT recognition test performance dissociated all three groups. Logistic regression analyses found that BVMT-R delayed free recall and delayed recognition scores correctly classified more patients with MCI (75.40%) than analogous P(r)VLT scores (66.20%). Visual versus verbal memory within-group analyses found no differences among non-MCI patients; P(r)VLT immediate free recall was worse among aMCI patients, but BVMT-R immediate free recall and delayed recognition were worse among mixed/dys MCI patients.

Discussion and Implications: Between-group analyses found convergent patterns of performance such that both tests identified elements of amnesia. However, logistic and within-group analyses found differing performance patterns suggesting that impaired visual episodic memory performance may be specific to emergent illness in mixed/dys MCI. Complementary but divergent neurocognitive networks may underlie visual versus verbal episodic memory performance in some patients with MCI.


Copyright © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.