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Spatial memory impairments in amnestic mild cognitive impairment in a virtual radial arm maze

Authors Lee J, Kho S, Yoo HB, Park S, Choi J, Kwon JS, Cha KR, Jung H

Received 24 November 2013

Accepted for publication 30 January 2014

Published 17 April 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 653—660


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Jun-Young Lee,1,2 Sooyeon Kho,1,2 Hye Bin Yoo,1,2 Soowon Park,1,2 Jung-Seok Choi,1,2 Jun Soo Kwon,3 Kyung Ryeol Cha,4 Hee-Yeon Jung1,2

1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University, 2Seoul Metropolitan Government – Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center, 3Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea; 4Department of Psychiatry, Osan Mental Hospital, Gyeonggi, South Korea

Objective: This study aims to apply the virtual radial arm maze (VRAM) task to find spatial working memory and reference memory impairments in patients of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Spatial memory functions between aMCI converters and nonconverters are also compared using VRAM results.
Methods: We assessed the spatial memory in 20 normal controls, 20 aMCI, and 20 mild AD subjects using VRAM. The Mini-Mental State Examination, Clinical Dementia Rating scale, and other neuropsychological tests were given to the subjects in conjunction with the VRAM test. Scores in working memory errors and reference memory errors were compared among the three groups using repeated measures analysis of variance. In addition, aMCI patients were followed-up after 5 years and surveyed for AD conversion rate.
Results: In AD patients, both spatial working and reference memory were impaired. However, in aMCI subjects, only spatial reference memory was impaired. Significant spatial reference memory impairment was found in the aMCI converter group when compared to the nonconverter group.
Conclusion: Spatial working memory is less impaired in aMCI while reference memory is similarly damaged in AD. In aMCI patients, more severe spatial reference memory deficit is a neuropsychological marker for AD conversion. VRAM may be well utilized in humans to assess spatial memory in normal aging, in aMCI, and in AD.

Keywords: spatial behavior, Alzheimer's disease, user computer interface, cognition

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