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The first symptoms are often mistaken as related to aging or stress. Detailed neuropsychological testing can reveal mild cognitive difficulties up to eight years before a person fulfills the clinical criteria for diagnosis of AD. These early symptoms can affect the most complex daily living activities. The most noticeable deficit is memory loss, which shows up as difficulty in remembering recently learned facts and inability to acquire new information.
Subtle problems with the executive functions of attentiveness, planning, flexibility, and abstract thinking, or impairments in semantic memory (memory of meanings, and concept relationships), can also be symptomatic of the early stages of AD. Apathy can be observed at this stage, and remains the most persistent neuropsychiatric symptom throughout the course of the disease. The preclinical stage of the disease has also been termed mild cognitive impairment, but whether this term corresponds to a different diagnostic stage or identifies the first step of AD is a matter of dispute.
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- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bäckman L, Jones S, Berger AK, Laukka EJ, Small BJ (Sep 2004). Multiple cognitive deficits during the transition to Alzheimer's disease. J Intern Med 256 (3): 195–204.
- ↑ Nygård L (2003). Instrumental activities of daily living: a stepping-stone towards Alzheimer's disease diagnosis in subjects with mild cognitive impairment?. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl (179): 42–6.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Arnáiz E, Almkvist O (2003). Neuropsychological features of mild cognitive impairment and preclinical Alzheimer's disease. Acta Neurol. Scand., Suppl. 179: 34–41.
- ↑ Landes AM, Sperry SD, Strauss ME, Geldmacher DS (Dec 2001). Apathy in Alzheimer's disease. J Am Geriatr Soc 49 (12): 1700–7.
- ↑ Petersen RC (February 2007). The current status of mild cognitive impairment—what do we tell our patients?. Nat Clin Pract Neurol 3 (2): 60–1.