Mild cognitive impairment: A subset of minor neurocognitive disorder?

Yonas E. Geda, Zuzana Nedelska

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The field of aging and dementia is increasingly preoccupied with identification of the asymptomatic phenotype of Alzheimer disease (AD). A quick glance at historical landmarks in the field indicates that the agenda and priorities of the field have evolved over time. The initial focus of research was dementia. In the late 1980s and 1990s, dementia researchers reported that some elderly persons are neither demented nor cognitively normal. Experts coined various terms to describe the gray zone between normal cognitive aging and dementia, including mild cognitive impairment. Advances made in epidemiologic, neuroimaging, and biomarkers research emboldened the field to seriously pursue the avenue of identifying asymptomatic AD. Accurate "diagnosis" of the phenotype has also evolved over time. For example, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) Task Force is contemplating to use the terms major and minor neurocognitive disorders. The six papers published in this edition of the journal pertain to mild cognitive impairment, which is envisaged to become a subset of minor neurocognitive disorders. These six studies have three points in common: 1) All of them are observational studies; 2) they have generated useful hypotheses or made important observations without necessarily relying on expensive biomarkers; and 3) Based on the new National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association guidelines, all the studies addressed the symptomatic phase of AD. Questionnaire-based observational studies will continue to be useful until such a time that validated biomarkers, be it chemical or neuroimaging, become widely available and reasonably affordable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-826
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • dementia
  • mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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