Cognitive account of working memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease

Krzysztof Jodzio, Sabiba Lenart


The aim of this article is to discuss the nature of working memory impairment in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We summarize the progress that has been made in the research on dementia-related deficits of selected components of working memory: central executive system, phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad. It is concluded that impairments in working memory (on span tests) are a common problem in course of AD. Specifically, patients with mild AD have an abnormality in attentional rather than linguistic aspect of memory processing. Nevertheless, much more disturbances of phonological processes at later stages of the disease may underlie comprehension deficits. It is also possible that impairments in AD patients' long-term semantic memory is the primary deficit underpinning the reduced contribution of language to remembering. Memory problems can be treated as reliable indicator or contributor to the severity of dementia. Finally, we emphasize the need to differentiate AD into “sub-types” based on the presentation of short-term forgetting and its neuroanatomical correlates.

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