Abstract

Hachinski and co-workers have used the term vascular cognitive impairment—no dementia (VaCIND) to represent the earliest stages of cognitive decline associated with vascular changes [Neurology 57 (4) (2001) 714]. However, the neuropsychological profile of vascular CIND remains unclear. Twenty-five healthy elders, 29 individuals at risk for cerebrovascular disease (R-CVD), 18 individuals with VaCIND, and 26 individuals with vascular dementia (VaD) were examined to determine whether patterns of neuropsychological assessment performance can assist in the differentiation of patients at varying levels of risk and severity for cerebrovascular disease and VaD. The R-CVD group performed within normal expectations on most cognitive measures as compared to the elderly control sample and published clinical norms. Relative to elderly controls, the VaCIND group demonstrated significant difficulties on measures of cognitive flexibility, verbal retrieval, and verbal recognition memory, but not on measures of confrontational naming or verbal fluency. The VaD group was impaired on all cognitive measures assessed. The current findings suggest that poor cognitive flexibility and verbal retrieval in the context of preserved function in other domains may characterize the prodromal stage of VaD.