Verbal memory and visual psychomotor performance in vertebrobasilar arterial insufficiency and multi-infarct dementia



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The purpose of the study was to demonstrate similarities between the memory disorder accompanying vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) and multi-infarct dementia and that characteristic of the amnesic syndrome associated with axial brain lesions. A group of individuals with vertebrobasilar arterial insufficiency or multi-infarct dementia was compared to a group of age and education matched, healthy neurologically intact controls. There were no differences in the two groups' performance on paired associates tasks involving related or unrelated word pairs. The control group was superior to the neurologically impaired group in overall performance on the pursuit rotor task but there were only equivocal differences in learning rate. The study failed to demonstrate similarities between cerebrovascular disease and the amnesic syndrome owing to the absence of verbal memory impairment in the cerebrovascular disease group. The pattern of impaired psychomotor performance and intact verbal learning in the experimental group could have been due to primarily subtentorial involvement in the neurologically impaired sample. Problems related to methodology, particularly to subject selection and screening, were discussed.