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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 23-30

Differential Classification of Dementia

E. Mohr, P. Brouwers, J. J. Claus, S. E. Purdon, M. Gagnon, and T. N. Chase

SCO Hospitals, Elisabeth Bruyere Health Center, Rm 298–20, 75 Bruyere St, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5C8, Canada

Received 4 August 1994; Accepted 17 January 1995

Copyright © 1995 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the absence of biological markers, dementia classification remains complex both in terms of characterization as well as early detection of the presence or absence of dementing symptoms, particularly in diseases with possible secondary dementia. An empirical, statistical approach using neuropsychological measures was therefore developed to distinguish demented from non-demented patients and to identify differential patterns of cognitive dysfunction in neurodegenerative disease. Age-scaled neurobehavioral test results (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised and Wechsler Memory Scale) from Alzheimer's (AD) and Huntington's (HD) patients, matched for intellectual disability, as well as normal controls were used to derive a classification formula. Stepwise discriminant analysis accurately (99% correct) distinguished controls from demented patients, and separated the two patient groups (79% correct). Variables discriminating between HD and AD patient groups consisted of complex psychomotor tasks, visuospatial function, attention and memory. The reliability of the classification formula was demonstrated with a new, independent sample of AD and HD patients which yielded virtually identical results (classification accuracy for dementia: 96%; AD versus HD: 78%). To validate the formula, the discriminant function was applied to Parkinson's (PD) patients, 38% of whom were classified as demented. The validity of the classification was demonstrated by significant PD subgroup differences on measures of dementia not included in the discriminant function. Moreover, a majority of demented PD patients (65%) were classified as having an HD-like pattern of cognitive deficits, in line with previous reports of the subcortical nature of PD dementia. This approach may thus be useful in classifying presence or absence of dementia and in discriminating between dementia subtypes in cases of secondary or coincidental dementia.