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Assessment of the cognitive profile of patients with alcohol related cognitive disorders with memory complaints

Background

Abuse and dependence on alcohol can lead to the deterioration of cognitive function ranging from amnestic disorder to mild cognitive impairment even dementia. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the neuropsychological characteristics of alcoholic patients that report memory disturbances.

Material and Methods

Population and method: We studied 77 chronic alcoholic patients aged: 23–83 years, mean duration of alcohol abuse: 16.4 years, from the "Athena" program of the Psychiatric Clinic at "Eginition" Hospital and who complained in the clinical interview of disturbances in memory. 50 healthy volunteers were studied as well. Both groups completed a battery of neuropsychological tools: MMSE, SKT, Verbal Fluency Test (Category & Letter), Clock Test, Digit Span-Forward and Backward.

Results

Alcoholics had statistically significant lower scores on: MMSE, Verbal Fluency Test-Category-Letter, Digit Span-Forward and Backward (p < 0.005, t-test) and higher scores on SKT2 (immediate recall), SKT4 (numbers arrangement), SKT6, SKT9 (recognition memory) (p < 0.005, Kruskal-Wallis test). In alcoholic subjects correlations R were found between MMSE, SKT, SKT6, SKT7, Verbal Fluency Test-Category-Letter, Clock Test, Digit Span-Forward and Backward and age and MMSE, Clock Test, Digit Span-Backward and years of alcohol abuse (Table 1).

Table 1 Alcoholics vs Controls in Neuropsychological Tests
Table 2 Correlation between Age and Duration of Abuse vs. Neuropsychological Tests

Discussion

Alcoholic patients presented mild disturbances in immediate memory, recognition memory, attention, verbal fluency, working memory. With regard to the effect of age in alcoholic patients, we observed that all the cognitive functions presented deficiencies. These deficits may be accentuated by age, but we cannot assume persistent cognitive impairment in alcoholic patients. On the other hand, years of abuse limit the wide spectrum of cognitive disorders to visuospatial and working memories disabilities, which reflect frontal lobe dysfunction.

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Correspondence to I Theotoka.

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Theotoka, I., Liappas, I., Kapaki, E. et al. Assessment of the cognitive profile of patients with alcohol related cognitive disorders with memory complaints. Ann Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2, S139 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2832-2-S1-S139

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Keywords

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Recognition Memory
  • Verbal Fluency
  • Cognitive Disorder
  • Alcoholic Patient