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What are the symptoms of Mild Neurocognitive Disorder (Pre-Dementia)?

Symptoms of mild neurocognitive disorder may occur in any of the following cognitive domains.

Complex Attention
This category applies to attention and processing speed. Examples:

  • Normal tasks take longer than previously.
  • Begins to find errors in routine tasks; finds work needs more double-checking than previously.
  • Thinking is easier when not competing with other things (radio, TV, other conversations, cell phone, driving).

Executive Function
This category applies to decision making, working memory, responding to feedback/error correction, overriding habits/inhibition, mental flexibility. Examples:

  • Increase effort is required to complete multistage projects.
  • Has increased difficulty multitasking or difficulty resuming a task interrupted by a visitor or phone call.
  • May complain of increased fatigue from the extra effort required to organize, plan, and make decisions.
  • May report that large social gatherings are more taxing or less enjoyable due to increased effort required to follow shifting conversations.

Learning and Memory
This category applies to immediate and recent memory (including free recall, cued recall, and recognition memory), very long-term memory, and implicit learning. Examples:

  • Has difficulty recalling recent eventsand relies increasingly on list-making or a calendar.
  • Needs occasional reminders or re-reading to keep track of characters in a movie or novel.
  • Occasionally may repeat self over a few weeks to the same person.
  • Loses track of whether bills have already been paid.

This category applies to using language, including naming, word finding, fluency, grammar and syntax, and comprehension. Examples:

  • Has noticeable word-finding difficulty.
  • May substitute general for specific terms.
  • May avoid use of specific names of acquaintances.
  • Grammatic errors involve subtle omission or incorrect use of articles, preposition, auxiliary verbs, etc.

This category applies to visual perception and recognition, hand-eye coordination, and carrying out learned movements. Examples:

  • May need to rely more on maps or others for directions.
  • Uses notes and follows others to get to a new place.
  • May find self lost or turned around when not concentrating on task.
  • Is less precise in parking.
  • Needs to expend greater effort for spatial tasks such as carpentry, assembly, sewing, or knitting.

Social Cognition
This category applies to recognition of emotions, social behavior and sensitivity toward others. Examples:

  • Has subtle changes in behavior or attitude, often described as a change in personality, such as less ability to recognize social cues or read facial expressions.
  • May demonstrated decreased empathy, increased extraversion or introversion, decreased inhibition, or subtle or episodic apathy or restlessness.

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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