Reaction time in word naming : Alzheimer's patients versus normal elderly



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The sensitivity of reaction time (RT) measurement in assessing cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease was evaluated in the present study. Sixteen Alzheimer patients and 16 normal elderly controls, matched for age and education, read 50 stimulus words presented individually on a cathode-ray tube. Alzheimer patients exhibited a significantly greater decline in cognitive impairment as defined by both slower reaction times (p < 0.0001) and greater number of reading errors (p < 0.0025). A stepwise discriminant analysis confirmed RT to be significantly more sensitive to decline in cognitive functioning in dementia than the measure of number of reading errors. Results confirm RT as a highly sensitive measure of central nervous system integrity, which allows for a more refined investigation of a patient's cognitive deficit than is obtainable with traditional test measures. These findings advocate the incorporation of RT measures in future research endeavors assessing cognitive changes in Alzheimer patients.



Word recognition, Alzheimer's disease, Reaction time