Learning and generalization tasks predict short-term cognitive outcome in nondemented elderly

Catherine E. Myers, Alan Kluger, James Golomb, Mark A. Gluck, Steven Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study examines whether behavioral measures obtained in nondemented elderly can predict cognitive status at 2-year follow-up. Prior studies have established that delayed paragraph recall can help predict short-term risk for decline to mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease. It was examined whether prediction accuracy can be improved by adding a discrimination-and- generalization task that has previously been shown to be disrupted in nondemented elderly with hippocampal atrophy, a risk factor for Alzheimer disease. Fifty nondemented, medically healthy elderly patients received baseline clinical diagnosis and cognitive testing; 2 years later, patients received a follow-up clinical diagnosis of normal, mild cognitive impairment, or probable Alzheimer disease. In all, 2 baseline variables, delayed paragraph recall and generalization performance, were predictive of follow-up outcome with sensitivity of 81% and specificity of 91%-better than the classification accuracy based on either of these measures alone. These preliminary results suggest that these behavioral tasks may be useful tools in predicting short-term cognitive outcome in nondemented elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Cognition
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Mild cognitive impairment


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