Objective: To use Sternberg’s Additive Factor Method to determine whether patients with mild Alzheimer disease (AD) are slow in information processing and/or response execution.
Methods: We gave an odd-even categorization task to 16 patients with probable mild AD and 17 age-matched healthy controls. We recorded reaction and movement times to stimuli varying for noise, target set size, stimulus-response compatibility, and fore-period interval, to probe the cognitive and motor stages of information processing.
Results: Both groups performed the task accurately, indicating good preservation of odd-even categorization in mild AD. The AD group’s reaction times were similar to the controls’ across conditions, and not selectively affected in any of the cognitive stages of the Additive Factor Method. However, the AD group’s movement times were slower than the controls’ across conditions.
Conclusions: AD patients’ performance on a task requiring categorization ability was slowed more by motor than cognitive components of information processing. When evaluating the performance of patients with AD in reaction-time paradigms, we should not attribute group differences solely to differences in cognitive processing. Execution components should also be considered.