Simple test could help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in asymptomatic patients

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New research shows individuals with a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer's disease have more difficulty picking the odd one out.

Researchers have developed a cognitive test, which detects subtle deficiencies in cognitive function and may help to identify Alzheimer’s disease (AD) decades before symptoms become apparent.

With studies demonstrating that tau pathology accumulates first in the perirhinal and entorhinal cortices of the brain, the researchers developed cognitive tests designed to detect subtle deficiencies in these cognitive functions.

Participants in the study were tasked with oddity detection tasks among real-world objects, human faces, scenes and novel unfamiliar computer-generated objects called ‘greebles’. The researchers found cognitively normal people with a genetic predisposition for AD had more difficulty distinguishing among the novel figures, than individuals without genetic predisposition.

Senior author, Brandon Ally, said the tests with greebles can provide a cost-effective way of identifying individuals who may be in the early stages of AD. “We are not proposing that the identification of novel objects such as greebles is a definitive marker of the disease, but when paired with some of the novel biomarkers and a solid clinical history, it may improve our diagnostic acumen in early high-risk individuals,” said Ally.

The research is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease .


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