A Neuropsychological Perspective on Defining Cognitive Impairment in the Clinical Study of Alzheimer's Disease: Towards a More Continuous Approach

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The global fight against Alzheimer's disease (AD) poses unique challenges for the field of neuropsychology. Along with the increased focus on early detection of AD pathophysiology, characterizing the earliest clinical stage of the disease has become a priority. We believe this is an important time for neuropsychology to consider how our approach to the characterization of cognitive impairment can be improved to detect subtle cognitive changes during early-stage AD. The present article aims to provide a critical examination of how we define and measure cognitive status in the context of aging and AD. First, we discuss pitfalls of current methods for defining cognitive impairment within the context of research shifting to earlier (pre)symptomatic disease stages. Next, we introduce a shift towards a more continuous approach for identifying early markers of cognitive decline and characterizing progression and discuss how this may be facilitated by novel assessment approaches. Finally, we summarize potential implications and challenges of characterizing cognitive status using a continuous approach.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease