Visual short-term memory binding deficits in familial Alzheimer's disease

Mario Parra Rodriguez, Sharon Abrahams, Robert H. Logie, Luis G. Méndez, Francisco Lopera, Sergio Della Sala

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    212 Citations (Scopus)


    Short-term memory binding is a memory function that underpins the temporary retention of complex objects (e.g. shapes with colours). In the verbal domain, this function has been found to be impaired in sporadic Alzheimer?s disease. Whether short-term memory binding is also impaired in familial Alzheimer?s disease, whether this impairment extends to the visual domain and whether it could be detected earlier than other cognitive deficits are issues yet to be investigated. Twenty two patients with familial Alzheimer?s disease caused by the E280A single presenilin-1 mutation, thirty carriers of the mutation who did not meet Alzheimer?s disease criteria (asymptomatic carriers) and 30 healthy relatives (non-carrier healthy controls) were assessed with a visual short-term memory task and a neuropsychological battery. The short-term memory task assessed the recognition of shapes, colours or shape-colour bindings presented in two consecutive arrays (i.e. study and test). Changes, which always occurred in the test array, consisted of new features replacing studied features (single feature conditions) or of features swapping across items (the binding condition). The neuropsychological battery comprised tests of associative and non-associative memory, attention, language, visuospatial and executive functions. Patients with Alzheimer?s disease and asymptomatic carriers performed significantly worse than healthy controls in the feature binding condition only. Group comparisons between asymptomatic carriers and healthy controls on standard neuropsychological tasks revealed no significant differences. Classification and area under the curve analyses confirmed that the binding task combines more sensitivity and specificity for patients with Alzheimer?s disease and most notably for asymptomatic carriers of the mutation than other traditional neuropsychological measures. This suggests that visual short-term memory binding deficits may be a preclinical marker for familial Alzheimer?s disease.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2702-2713
    Number of pages12
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • familial Alzheimer?s disease
    • presenilin-1
    • short-term memory
    • memory binding
    • working memory
    • neuropsychological markers


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