Profiles of Normal Cognition in Essential Tremor

Tess E.K. Cersonsky, Sarah Kellner, Silvia Chapman, Edward D. Huey, Elan D. Louis, Stephanie Cosentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: Patients with essential tremor exhibit heterogeneous cognitive functioning. Although the majority of patients fall under the broad classification of cognitively normal, essential tremor is associated with increased risk for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. It is possible that patterns of cognitive performance within the wide range of normal functioning have predictive utility for mild cognitive impairment or dementia. These cross-sectional analyses sought to determine whether cognitive patterns, or clusters, could be identified among individuals with essential tremor diagnosed as cognitively normal. We also determined whether such clusters, if identified, were associated with demographic or clinical characteristics of patients.Methods: Elderly subjects with essential tremor (age >55 years) underwent comprehensive neuropsychological testing. Domain means (memory, executive function, attention, visuospatial abilities, and language) from 148 individuals diagnosed as cognitively normal were partitioned using k-means cluster analysis. Individuals in each cluster were compared according to cognitive functioning (domain means and test scores), demographic factors, and clinical variables.Results: There were three clusters. Cluster 1 (n = 64) was characterized by comparatively low memory scores (p <.001), Cluster 2 (n = 39) had relatively low attention and visuospatial scores (p <.001), and Cluster 3 (n = 45) exhibited consistently high performance across all domains. Cluster 1 had lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores and reported more prescription medication use and lower balance confidence.Conclusions: Three patterns of cognitive functioning within the normal range were evident and tracked with certain clinical features. Future work will examine the extent to which such patterns predict conversion to mild cognitive impairment and/or dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Cerebellar diseases
  • Cognitive aging
  • Memory
  • Movement disorders
  • Postural balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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