This study aimed at investigating the clinical usefulness of the Mental Deterioration Battery (MDB) in the neuropsychological diagnosis and characterization of the dementia syndrome. In this paper, we report: (a) normative data for various test scores derived from the analysis of performance of 340 normal subjects living in urban areas; (b) an evaluation of the reliability of the single tests and of the battery as a whole in differentiating normal subjects from patients affected by cognitive deterioration derived from the analysis of performance of 130 normal subjects living in rural areas and 134 patients affected by probable Alzheimer’s dementia; (c) a cluster analysis of performances of the 340 normal subjects in the standardization group to evaluate possible criteria of homogeneity according to which the various MDB scores tend to aggregate; (d) an analysis of performance profiles of 183 patients with right monohemispheric focal lesions, 159 patients with left unilateral lesions with aphasia and 131 left-lesioned nonaphasic patients to evaluate the specificity of the single tests of the battery in documenting a selective impairment of one of the two cerebral hemispheres. Results confirm the reliability of the MBD in discriminating between normal and demented patients and provide indications for use of the battery in differentiating qualitative patterns of cognitive impairment.

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