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Open AccessArticle

Functional Cognitive Disorder: Diagnostic Challenges and Future Directions

ReMemBr Group, University of Bristol, Bristol Brain Centre, Southmead Hospital, Southmead Road, Bristol BS10 5NB, UK
Centre for Dementia Prevention, University of Edinburgh, 9A Bioquarter, 9 Little France Road, Edinburgh EH16 4UX, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diagnostics 2019, 9(4), 131;
Received: 25 June 2019 / Revised: 23 September 2019 / Accepted: 25 September 2019 / Published: 28 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diagnosis of Dementia and Cognitive Impairment)
Functional cognitive disorder describes patients with persistent, troublesome subjective cognitive complaints that are inconsistent with a recognized disease process, and where significant discrepancies are found between subjective and objectively observed cognitive functioning. The etiology is heterogeneous and potentially related to underlying psychological factors. Making a diagnosis of functional cognitive disorder can be challenging and there is the potential for misdiagnosis of early-stage neurodegeneration. We compared neuropsychological findings in three groups: functional cognitive disorder (FCD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy controls. Participants were recruited from the ReMemBr Group Clinic, North Bristol NHS Trust, and via Join Dementia Research. Both the FCD and MCI groups showed elevated prospective and retrospective memory symptom scores. Performance on the Montreal cognitive assessment was equivalent in the FCD and MCI groups, both being impaired compared with the controls. The FCD group was younger than those with MCI. We discuss challenges and controversies in the diagnosis of functional cognitive disorder, alongside illustrative cases and proposals for areas of research priority. View Full-Text
Keywords: functional cognitive disorder; neurodegeneration; mild cognitive impairment; functional neurological disorder cognition functional cognitive disorder; neurodegeneration; mild cognitive impairment; functional neurological disorder cognition
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Pennington, C.; Ball, H.; Swirski, M. Functional Cognitive Disorder: Diagnostic Challenges and Future Directions. Diagnostics 2019, 9, 131.

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