Abstract

Most dementias are considered to exhibit either a predominantly “cortical” (e.g. Alzheimer's disease, AD) or “subcortical” (e.g. Parkinson's disease) pattern. A double dissociation has been reported, such that cortical and subcortical dementias can be differentiated based on performance on tests of declarative and procedural learning. The goal of this study was to determine if subjects with alcohol dementia exhibit a predominantly cortical or subcortical dementia profile. The performance of 10 elderly subjects diagnosed with alcohol dementia, 29 elderly subjects with histories of alcohol dependence but who were not demented, and 11 subjects with AD was compared to 20 elderly control subjects. The results indicated that the procedural learning task did not differentiate among the groups, whereas the discriminability index from the California Learning Test (the declarative learning task) did. Thus, alcohol dementia cannot clearly be ascribed to either dementia classification.