Will MCI Become Dementia?

Mild cognitive impairment was less likely to become dementia in patients who kept their recognition memory

(RxWiki News) Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a loss of memory and thinking skills, and it can progress to dementia in some people. But, we don’t know why some people with MCI remain stable.

A recent study found people with MCI were less likely to progress to dementia if their recognition memory was still good. 

A simple test of recognition memory may help doctors know who is at risk of moving from MCI to dementia.

"Do crosswords or Sudoku to help prevent dementia."

Researchers, led by Estrella Gómez-Tortosa, MD, PhD, in the Department of Neurology at the Fundación Jiménez Díaz Hospital in Spain, wanted to know what might predict which people with MCI remain stable and which will get worse.

They enrolled 210 people with MCI. At the start of the study, the people did Hopkins Verbal Learning Test.

The Hopkins Verbal Learning Test is a word memory task. It shows people 12 words. People are asked to recall and to recognize words from the list.

The researchers tracked the patients for up to four years. Participants did memory and dementia tests along the way so the researchers could see who progressed from MCI to dementia.

Based on the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test at the start of the study, people were divided into two groups. One group had higher scores of recognition memory (a score of eight or higher on the test). The other group had lower scores on the memory test.

The authors found the people who scored lower on recognition memory were more likely to develop dementia.

There were 107 people in the high recognition memory group. Of those, 23 people (21.5%) developed dementia.

A total of 103 people had lower scores on the memory test, and 54 of them (52.4%) developed dementia.

The authors concluded lower levels of recognition memory during MCI may be a predictor of worsening condition – a progression to dementia from MCI.

Tests of recognition memory may help to identify people who are at highest risk of progressing from MCI to dementia.

This study cannot say that activities to help keep or improve recognition memory will prevent dementia.  Other studies are needed to test that idea.

Instead, this information can help doctors to understand which patients with MCI may be at risk of getting worse.

This study was published in October in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Funding and conflict of interest information was not available on the journal’s website.

Review Date: 
October 25, 2012