According to researchers, a quick card memory test can identify cognitive decline years before symptoms appear. According to experts, the test would make it possible for those who are more likely to develop dementia to receive treatment and preventative measures sooner.
One specialist advocates administering the test to everyone over 45. Researchers claim to have created an easy test that can forecast a person’s future risk of developing cognitive impairment.
The test only applies to persons without pre-existing cognitive and memory impairments, the researchers write in their study, which was just published in the journal Neurology.
The study’s lead author and clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, Ellen Grober, Ph.D., said in a statement that there is “increasing evidence” that some people who appear to be healthy and have no cognitive or memory issues may fact be displaying very mild indicators of early cognitive impairment. In our study, a quick and accurate memory test indicated the likelihood that individualsnormally thought to have normal cognition will experience cognitive impairment.
Cognitive impairment study
969 participants in the study, whose average age was 69, took a basic memory test and then underwent follow-up exams over ten years.
There were two phases of the test.
The participants were first instructed to examine four cards, each of which had four drawings of various objects.
Then, the respondents were required to identify each item as a member of a specific category. For instance, when asked to name a fruit, participants might respond “grape.”
In the following stage, participants were required to recall the things to gauge their memory capacity. They were given category cues, which calculated the amount of memory storage, for the items they couldn’t recall.
Result of the tests for cognitive impairment
Using the Stages of Objective Memory Impairment (SOMI) approach, researchers categorized the participants into five groups with stages zero through four based on their test results.
Stage 0 was for patients with no memory issues (47% of cases).
Memory retrieval problems, which researchers noted can occur five to eight years before dementia, were more difficult to recall in stages one (35%) and two (13%) of the disease. When given indications, these participants could recall information.
The individuals in the third and fourth stages (5% overall) had trouble remembering all the objects, even with hints. These stages, according to the researchers, occur 1 to 3 years before dementia.
234 of the 969 subjects experienced cognitive impairment in the end.
Subjects at stages one and two were twice as likely to experience cognitive impairment compared to those at SOMI stage zero, even after accounting for factors such as age, gender, education level, and the APOE4 gene, which affects a person’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive impairment was three times as likely to develop in those in stages three and four.
The significance of testing for cognitive impairment
The SOMI method continues to forecast an elevated risk of cognitive impairment even after accounting for indicators of Alzheimer’s disease including amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles.
According to research, 72% of people in the third and fourth stages will have cognitive impairment after ten years, compared to 57% of people in the second stage, 35% of people in the first stage, and 21% of people in stage zero.
Our findings confirm the SOMI system’s application in locating those most at risk for cognitive decline, according to Grober. “Researchers looking for remedies can benefit from spotting cognitive impairment early on. By working with their doctor and implementing strategies to support healthy brain aging, those persons who are discovered to be at elevated risk may also benefit.
Neura Health’s virtual headache and migraine clinic’s medical director, Dr. Thomas Berk, a neurologist, pointed out that present testing only reflect the brain’s current condition.
“Predicting neurological change years later is very difficult,” said Berk. When someone has neurological testing, “we are getting a snapshot of their current brain function, not what their brain will look like years later,”
“This does give some evidence for being able to assess the future risks of developing memory issues,” he continued.
There is unquestionably a need for “a simple and fairly rapid test,” particularly in light of the growing body of evidence that early intervention can have a positive impact, according to Dr. Dale Bredesen, head of the University of California Los Angeles’ Easton Centre for Alzheimer’s Disease Research.
Standard neurocognitive tests can take hours, making them impractical for screening, and common quick tests like the MMSE aren’t sensitive enough to catch these early alterations, according to Bredesen.
Using fresh memory tests
According to Bredesen, the subjects of present testing are those who already have cognitive problems.
“Simple tests like the one described in this report should be included for everyone over the age of 45, to identify those who should be evaluated further, and potentially treated,” he advised.
One physician claimed that the SOMI system made him think of a well-known kid’s game.
According to Dr. Clifford Segil, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Centre in California, “I advise my patients to make a mental image of a scene with all three words to help in their recall when they have to recall the three words.” “I would suggest the same for this proposed card cognition exam. Currently used cognitive exams include additional memory tests.“
“Go Fish,” which is utilised as a learning tool for children rather than a cognitive exam for senior people, is similar to the suggested test to be employed in my elderly population, which interests me as a parent and a practising adult neurologist, Segil added.
“When you start to worry that you might be losing your memory, you should be evaluated by a neurologist to see if your complaints are generally age-appropriate normal or something else,” he said.
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