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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2014, Article ID 259358, 8 pages
Research Article

Posterior AD-Type Pathology: Cognitive Subtypes Emerging from a Cluster Analysis

1Department of Geriatrics, Centre for the Medicine of the Ageing, Neurosciences and Orthopedics, Catholic University, Rome, Italy
2Dementia Center, Italian Hospital Group, Via Tiburtina 188, Guidonia, 00012 Rome, Italy
3Institute of Clinical Infectious Diseases, Catholic University, 00168 Rome, Italy
4Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, 00184 Rome, Italy
5Neuropsychology Unit, IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, 00136 Rome, Italy

Received 18 February 2014; Accepted 18 May 2014; Published 5 June 2014

Academic Editor: Olivier Piguet

Copyright © 2014 Antonella Cappa et al. 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.


Background. “Posterior shift” of the neuropathological changes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) produces a syndrome (posterior cortical atrophy) (PCA) dominated by high-level visual deficits. Objective. To explore in patients with AD-type pathology whether a data-driven analysis (cluster analysis) based on neuropsychological findings resulted in the emergence of different subgroups of patients; in particular to find out whether it was possible to identify patients with visuospatial deficits consistent with the hypothesis that PCA is a “dorsal stream” syndrome or, rather, whether there were subgroups of patients with different types of impairment within the high-level visual domain. Methods. 23 PCA and 16 DAT patients were studied. By a principal component analysis performed on a wide range of neuropsychological tasks, 15 variables were obtained that loaded onto five main factors (memory, language, perceptual, visuospatial, and calculation) which entered a hierarchical cluster analysis. Results. Four clusters of cognitive impairment emerged: visuospatial/perceptual, memory, perceptual/calculation, and language. Only in the first cluster a visuospatial deficit clearly emerged. Conclusions. AD pathology produces not only variants dominated by memory (DAT) and, to a lesser extent, visuospatial deficit (PCA), but also other distinct syndromic subtypes with disorders in visual perception and language which reflect a different vulnerability of specific functional networks.