Visual spatial impairment is often an early symptom of neurodegenerative disease; however, this multi-faceted domain of cognition is not well-assessed by most typical dementia evaluations. Neurodegenerative diseases cause circumscribed atrophy in distinct neural networks, and accordingly, they impact visual spatial cognition in different and characteristic ways.
Anatomically-focused visual spatial assessment can assist the clinician in making an early and accurate diagnosis. This article will review the literature on visual spatial cognition in neurodegenerative disease clinical syndromes, and where research is available, by neuropathologic diagnoses. Visual spatial cognition will be organized primarily according to the following schemes: bottom-up / top-down processing, dorsal / ventral stream processing, and egocentric / allocentric frames of reference.