Neuropsychological profiles and verbal abilities in lifelong bilinguals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease

  • Kowoll M
  • Degen C
  • Gladis S
 et al. 
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Bilingualism is associated with enhanced executive functioning and delayed onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we investigated neuropsychological differences between mono- and bilingual patients with MCI and AD as well as the respective effects of dementia on the dominant and non-dominant language of bilinguals. 69 patients with MCI (n = 22) or AD (n = 47) and 17 healthy controls were included. 41 subjects were classified as lifelong bilinguals (mean age: 73.6; SD = 11.5) and 45 as monolinguals (mean age: 78.1; SD = 10.9). Neuropsychological performance was assessed on the CERAD-NP, the clock-drawing test, and the logical memory subscale of the Wechsler Memory Scale. Neuropsychological profiles showed only minor nonsignificant differences between mono- and bilingual subjects when compared between diagnostic groups. Bilingual MCI patients scored significantly lower on the verbal fluency and picture naming task in their dominant language than bilingual controls. Bilingual AD patients showed a reduced performance in their nondominant language when compared to bilingual MCI patients and bilingual controls (main effect language dominance: verbal fluency task p < 0.001; BNT p < 0.001). Bilingual MCI and AD patients show a similar pattern of neuropsychological deficits as monolingual patients do. The dominant language appears to be compromised first in bilingual MCI patients, while severe deficits of the nondominant language develop later in the course with manifestation of AD. These findings are important for the diagnostic work up of bilingual patients and the development of improved care concepts for bilingual patients such as migrant populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • bilingualism
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • picture naming
  • verbal fluency

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  • Magdalena Eva Kowoll

  • Christina Degen

  • Saskia Gladis

  • Johannes Schröder

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