June 13, 2017
1 min read

Neuropsychological measures useful for detecting preclinical Alzheimer's disease

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Neuropsychological measures demonstrated utility for detecting preclinical Alzheimer’s disease among older adults, according to study findings.

“In the last decade or so, there has been a lot of work on biomarkers for early Alzheimer's disease,” S. Duke Han, PhD, of University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, said in a press release. “There are new imaging methods that can identify neuropathological brain changes that happen early on in the course of the disease. The problem is that they are not widely available, can be invasive and are incredibly expensive. I wanted to see whether the cognitive tests I regularly use as a neuropsychologist relate to these biomarkers.”

S. Duke Han

To study the association between amyloid status and neurocognitive ability in Alzheimer’s disease, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 61 studies.

Analysis indicated positive amyloid status was associated with poorer performance in global cognitive function, memory, language, visuospatial ability, processing speed and attention/working memory/executive functions, compared with negative amyloid status.

Having positive amyloid status and neurodegeneration was associated with lower performance on memory measures, compared with positive amyloid status and no neurodegeneration.

“Having a baseline measure of cognition before noticing any kind of cognitive change or decline could be incredibly helpful because it's hard to diagnose early Alzheimer’s disease if you don’t have a frame of reference to compare to,” Han said in the release. “If people would consider getting a baseline evaluation by a qualified neuropsychologist at age 50 or 60, then it could be used as a way to track whether someone is experiencing a true decline in cognition in the future.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Please see the full study for a list of relevant financial disclosures.