Misplacement of something inside the refrigerator is not a sign of dementia, but a probable symptom of attention deficit due to depression

Jeewon Suh, So Young Park, Young Ho Park, Jung Min Pyun, Na young Ryoo, Min Ju Kang, Sang Yun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study is to investigate the clinical significance of a specific behavior of misplacing items in a refrigerator (i.e., placing extremely unusual things such as remote control and/or cellular phone in a refrigerator) as a symptom of cognitive dysfunction. Patients with memory complaints were asked whether they ever experienced misplacing items in a refrigerator, such as placing a remote control, a cellular phone, or other extremely unusual things inside a refrigerator (referred to as the ‘fridge sign’). Among the 2172 individuals with memory complaints, 55 (2.5%) experienced symptoms of the ‘fridge sign’. We investigated the cognitive profiles of ‘fridge sign’-positive patients and performed follow-up evaluations with neuropsychological tests or telephone interviews. The ‘fridge sign’ was mostly found in individuals diagnosed as subjective cognitive decline (n = 33, 60%) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI, n = 20, 36.4%) with depressive mood and was relatively rare in dementia states (n = 2, 3.5%). Moreover, none of the ‘fridge sign’-positive patients showed significant cognitive decline over the follow-up period. We compared the cognitive profiles and the clinical progression of 20 ‘fridge sign’-positive MCI patients and 40 ‘fridge sign’-negative MCI patients. ‘Fridge sign’-positive MCI patients had worse scores on the Stroop test color reading and had higher scores on the geriatric depression scale than ‘fridge sign’-negative MCI patients, which indicates that the ‘fridge sign’ could be indicative of selective attention deficit in patients with depression rather than indicative of cognitive decline related to dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4978
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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