Characterizing alterations in executive functioning across distinct subtypes of cortical and subcortical dementia

Melissa Lamar, Rod Swenson, Edith Kaplan, David J. Libon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Differential pattems of executive function deficits (EFD) exist in cortical and subcortical dementia; however, little work exists attempting to integrate these findings into a conceptual framework. The current study aimed to characterize EFD in cortical and subcortical dementia. Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD; n = 65), subcortical ischemic vascular dementia (IVD; n = 64), or Parkinson's disease with dementia (dPD; n = 21) completed a variety of measures purported to require executive systems. We extracted variables of interest from measures shown in a growing body of literature to be associated with EFD in dementia. These measures included the Boston Revision of the WMS Mental Control subtest, letter fluency, WAIS-R Similarities subtest, CVLT, the Graphical Sequence Test-Dementia version, and Clock Drawing. When submitted to a PCA with varimax rotation, these variables produced a four-component solution (62% of the variance). Component 1 appeared to reflect adequacy of working memory, Component 2 irrelevant or context non-specific interference, Component 3 reflected response preparation and Component 4 relevant or context-specific interference. Post hoc analyses of z-transformed composite scores revealed that AD differentially affected context-specific interference, IVD and dPD disrupted working memory and response preparation while IVD differentially affected context non-specific interference. EFD in dementia can be divided into specific components that are differentially impaired by cortical and subcortical dementias. Implications for an overall conceptual framework of EFD in dementia are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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