The Differential Effects of Alzheimer's Disease and Lewy Body Pathology on Cognitive Performance: a Meta-analysis

Ashita S Gurnani, Brandon E Gavett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Differential diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) from normal aging and other dementia etiologies is imperative for disease specific treatment options and long-term care planning. Neuropathological confirmation is the gold standard for neurodegenerative disease diagnosis, yet most published studies examining the use of neuropsychological tests in the differential diagnosis of dementia rely upon clinical diagnostic outcomes. The present study undertook a meta-analytic review of the literature to identify cognitive tests and domains that allow for the differentiation of individuals with AD pathology from individuals with dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) pathology and pathology-free individuals. A comprehensive literature search yielded 14 studies that met the inclusion criteria for the present meta-analysis. Six studies comprised 222 decedents with AD compared to 433 normal controls, and eight studies comprised 431 cases of AD compared to 155 decedents with DLB. Results revealed that the effect of having neuropathologically confirmed AD versus DLB lowered performance in the memory domain, and having DLB decreased performance in the visuospatial domain. No single test differed significantly across the AD and DLB groups. For the AD and pathology free comparison, results indicated that that AD was associated with poorer performance on the memory and language domains. With respect to specific cognitive tests, AD produced lower scores on list learning tests, category fluency, and the Digit Symbol substitution test. The limited number of studies meeting inclusion criteria warrants formulation of guidelines for reporting in clinico-pathological studies; suggested guidelines are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalNeuropsychology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


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