Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

A new tool for detecting Alzheimer’s is in its earliest stages was suggested by a new study. The earliest sign of the disease is trouble with navigation; Alzheimer’s patients have trouble finding their way around new surroundings. In the study, participants were asked to learn and navigate a maze on a computer, using wallpaper patterns and various landmarks as their guides. The participants with preclinical Alzheimer’s found it harder to learn the locations of objects in the maze. Denise Head, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences in arts and sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, one of the study’s authors, reported the following findings. “The spatial navigation task used in this study to assess cognitive map skills was more sensitive at detecting preclinical Alzheimer’s disease than the standard psychometric task of episodic memory.” She went on to say: “These findings suggest that navigational tasks designed to assess a cognitive mapping strategy could represent a powerful tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition.” (As reported in nextavenue.org by Heidi Raschke, Living and Arts Editor.)

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