Deficient acquisition and consolidation: intertrial free recall performance in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment
Moulin, C.J.A., James, N., Freeman, J.E. and Jones, R.W. (2004) Deficient acquisition and consolidation: intertrial free recall performance in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 26 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1380-3395
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1076/jcen.188.8.131.5240
Previous research demonstrates that dementia of the Alzheimer type (DAT) is characterised by deficits of episodic memory, especially in the acquisition of new material. As well as this deficit in acquisition, some researchers have also argued for a deficit in consolidation in DAT. We examined acquisition and consolidation by measuring the intertrial gained and lost access in DAT, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and controls. We report findings from a study of clinical data based on assessment of patients using three free recall trials of a word list. We found that both DAT and MCI groups showed a deficit in acquisition and consolidation of items between trials relative to controls. Moreover, the DAT group was significantly impaired relative to the MCI group for both acquisition and consolidation. Correlations within each group showed that there were strong relationships between intertrial measures and standard measures of memory function. Importantly in no group was there a significant correlation between our measures of acquisition and consolidation: we argue that these measures reflect different underlying processes, and the failure to consolidate in DAT and MCI is not related to the deficit in acquisition. Finally, we showed strong correlations between our measure and dementia severity, suggesting that acquisition and consolidation both get worse as the dementia progresses.