Background/Aim: Semantic memory deficits have been shown in dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by group comparisons. The aim of this study is to investigate the frequency of impairments on tests with semantic content in patients with dementia, MCI (amnestic and non-amnestic) and affective disorders. Methods: A Famous faces test, Boston Naming Test and Category fluency were applied in 114 consecutive memory clinic patients and 95 healthy participants (all participants were 60 years old or older; dementia/MCI patients had Mini-Mental State Examination scores ≥20). Results: Fifty-three patients were classified with dementia, 36 with MCI (14 amnestic, 22 non-amnestic) and 25 with affective disorders. Dementia and MCI patients differed significantly from the control group on all tests. Patients with dementia and MCI had impairments in about 40% of the cases (on the most sensitive tests). However, patients with affective disorders also had mild impairments on tests tapping semantic memory (25% were impaired on the most sensitive tests). Impairments on the Famous faces test were more frequently found in dementia and MCI as compared to patients with affective disorders. Conclusion: Short tests with semantic memory content are sensitive to changes in dementia and MCI, but impairments on such tests may also be found in other diseases, e.g. affective disorders.

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