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Vol. 53, No. 1, 2007
Issue release date: December 2006

Mild Cognitive Impairment: What’s in a Name?

Dierckx E. · Engelborghs S. · De Raedt R. · De Deyn P.P. · Ponjaert-Kristoffersen I.
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Background: Nowadays the term mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is used to fill the gap between cognitive changes associated with normal ageing and those associated with dementia. Despite some agreement in general definitions, MCI is still a heterogeneous clinical syndrome for which no DSM-IV criteria have yet been established. Criteria by Petersen et al. are presently the most applied in clinical practice. Moreover, little attention has been paid to the specific relation between MCI and depression. Objective: This review highlights some concerns about the concept of MCI and provides guidelines within the field of neuropsychology to solve them. In a second part, the paper focuses on the specific relationship between depression in the elderly and MCI. Results: We hypothesize that certain test instruments can be used to operationalize the criteria proposed by Petersen et al. Moreover, we suggest that cued recall might be of help to differentiate between progressive and non-progressive MCI. Concerning the specific relation between depression and MCI, we assume that elderly depression with concomitant cognitive problems can be seen as an MCI. Conclusion: The proposed adjustments and additions (neuropsychological instruments and the incorporation of depressive symptoms) in the diagnostic flowchart of Petersen may serve as useful tools for clinicians when making a diagnosis of MCI.

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