Beyond a Differential Diagnosis: Cognitive and Morphometric Decoding of Information Processing Speed in Senior Adults with DSM-5 Mild Neurocognitive Disorders

Hanna Lu, Sandra S.M. Chan, Ada W.T. Fung, Linda C.W. Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Processing speed has been highlighted as a diagnostic item for neurocognitive disorders (NCD) in DSM-5. The utility of information processing speed (IPS) enclosed with multiscale constructs in the diagnosis of NCD warrants exploration. Objective:We aimed to investigate the IPS with two types of measurements in the patients with NCD due to vascular disease (NCD-vascular) and NCD due to Alzheimer's disease (NCD-AD), and examine the associations between IPS measures and morphometric features. Methods: The IPS was evaluated using trail making test (TMT) and flanker test (n = 204). Direct scores, derived scores, and reaction time (RT) were used as IPS measures. Further, surface-based morphometry cortical volume was calculated in a subsample (n = 44) with structural MRI data. Results: All IPS measures showed a significant value to differentiate NCD patients from healthy subjects. Only mean RT could distinguish NCD-AD from NCD-vascular groups. TMT-B score and difference score were correlated with gray matter volume (GMV) of inferior frontal gyrus, precuneus and superior temporal cortex. Mean RT was associated with the GMV of post-central gyrus (r = -0.327, p = 0.035), and executive speed was associated with inferior frontal cortex (r = -0.475, p = 0.001), cingulate gyrus (r = -0.497, p = 0.001), and superior temporal gyrus (r = -0.36, p = 0.019). Conclusion: The cognitive and morphometric correlates of IPS measures indicate that complex IPS might be decomposed into the domain-specific components with corresponding neural underpinnings. Our findings may also provide essential insights into the diagnostic item of NCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-937
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gray matter volume
  • information processing speed
  • morphometry
  • neurocognitive disorders
  • reaction time
  • trail making test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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