Refining memory assessment of elderly people with cognitive impairment: insights from the short-term memory binding test

Mario A. Parra, Clara Calia, Ana Frank García, Javier Olazarán-Rodrígue, Juan Antonio Hernandez-Tamames, Juan Alvarez-Linera, Sergio Della Sala, Sara Fernandez Guinea

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects temporary memory for bound features more remarkably than for individual features. Such selective impairments manifest from presymptomatic through dementia stages via titration procedures. A recent study suggested that without titration and with high memory load the binding selectivity may disappear in people at risk of AD such as those with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). We compared data from two studies on temporary binding which assessed people with MCI and controls using different memory loads (2 or 3 items). Selective binding impairments were found in MCI, but relative to controls, such selectivity was contingent upon memory load (i.e., present with 2 items). Further analysis with MCI people who tested positive to neuroimaging biomarkers (i.e., hippocampal atrophy) confirmed that this specific binding impairments are a feature of prodromal AD. The temporary binding task has been recently suggested by consensus papers as a potential screening tool for AD. The results presented here inform on task properties that can maximise the reliability of this new assessment tool for the detection of memory impairments in prodromal cases of AD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Early online date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019


  • short term memory binding
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • prodromal Alzheimer’s disease
  • neuropsychological assessment
  • early detection

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