Dual task performance in early Alzheimer's disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment and depression

J. A. Lonie, K. M. Tierney, L. L. Herrmann, C. Donaghey, R. E. O'Carroll, A. Lee, K. P. Ebmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The dual task paradigm (Baddeley et al. 1986; Della Sala et al. 1995) has been proposed as a sensitive measure of Alzheimer's dementia, early in the disease process. Method: We investigated this claim by administering the modified dual task paradigm (utilising a pencil-and-paper version of a tracking task) to 33 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and 10 with very early Alzheimer's disease, as well as 21 healthy elderly subjects and 17 controls with depressive symptoms. All groups were closely matched for age and pre-morbid intellectual ability. Results: There were no group differences in dual task performance, despite poor performance in episodic memory tests of the aMCI and early Alzheimer's disease groups. In contrast, the Alzheimer patients were specifically impaired in the trail-making test B, another commonly used test of divided attention. Conclusions: The dual task paradigm lacks sensitivity for use in the early differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-31
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Depressive disorder
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Geriatric assessment
  • Memory disorders
  • Neuropsychology


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