The SKT (Syndrom-Kurztest) is a short cognitive performance test assessing deficits of memory and attention in the sense of speed of information processing. The new standardization of the SKT (2015) aimed at improving its sensitivity for early cognitive decline due to dementia in subjects aged 60 or older. The goal of this article is to demonstrate how the neuropsychological test profile of the SKT can be used to provide valuable information for a differential diagnosis between MCI (mild cognitive impairment), dementia and depression. n
= 549 patients attending a memory clinic (Nuremberg, Germany) were diagnosed according to ICD-10 and tested with the SKT. The SKT consists of nine subtests, three for the assessment of memory and six for measuring attention in the sense of speed of information processing. The result of the SKT test procedure is a total score, which indicates the severity of overall cognitive impairment. Besides the summary score, two subscores for memory and attention can be interpreted. Using the level of depression as a covariate, statistical comparisons of SKT test profiles between the three patient groups revealed that depressed patients showed more pronounced deficits than MCI patients in all six attention subtests. On the other hand, MCI patients displayed significantly greater mnestic impairment than the depressed group, which was indicated by significant differences in the memory subscore. MCI and dementia patients showed similar deficit patterns dominated by impairment of memory (delayed recall) with MCI patients demonstrating less overall impairment. In sum, the SKT neuropsychological test profiles provided indicators for a differential diagnosis between MCI and beginning dementia vs. depression.
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