Advances in clinical dementia research have made it possible to diagnose prodromal stages of various dementia syndromes. We present here the concept of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as the most widely used concept for this stage of dementia processes. Necessary diagnostic procedures for MCI are presented, including clinical, neuropsychological and laboratory methods. Particularly in Alzheimer's disease it seems possible to diagnose a prodromal stage by using biomarkers and brain imaging, i.e. before the clinical dementia syndrome of the Alzheimer's type is present. When diagnosing dementia diseases in the stage of a clinical dementia syndrome, irreversible neuropathological processes are advanced. For this reason we should aim for the clinical detection of dementia disorders in the stage of mild cognitive impairment. This will lead to research on how to slow or even halt the progression of prodromal dementia.
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