Cognitive Tests May Help Detect Early Alzheimer’s in Patients Without Symptoms

Cognitive Tests May Help Detect Early Alzheimer’s in Patients Without Symptoms
A Keck School of Medicine of USC study shows that cognitive tests can detect early Alzheimer's disease in  older adults who do not present symptoms yet. The study “Detectable Neuropsychological Differences in Early Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease: A Meta-Analysis” was published in the journal Neuropsychology Review. It is estimated that 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer's disease, and that number could climb to 16 million by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Long before symptoms arise, amyloid plaques (aggregates of beta-amyloid protein), along with tangles of the tau protein, start to accumulate, interfering with normal function of the brain. These brain changes can be detected through positron emission tomography (PET) scan or cerebrospinal fluid analysis. However, such tests are not generally available, are invasive and extremely expensive. "In the last decade or so, there has been a lot of work on biomarkers for early Alzheimer's disease," Duke Han, PhD, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California neuropsychologist and associate professor of family medicine, said in the 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 availab
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