Testing memory over 4 weeks could predict Alzheimer’s disease risk

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In a new study, researchers found that testing people’s memory over four weeks could identify who is at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease before it has developed.

Importantly, they found testing people’s ability to retain memories for longer time periods could predict this more accurately than classic memory tests.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Bristol and elsewhere.

In the study, the team tested 46 cognitively healthy older people (with an average age of 71).

The participants performed three memory tasks on which delayed recall was tested after 30 minutes and four weeks, as well as a cognitive test and an MRI brain scan.

The cognitive test was repeated after 12 months to assess the change in cognitive ability.

The research found the memory of 15 of the 46 participants declined over the year and that the four-week verbal memory tests predicted cognitive decline in these healthy older people better than the clinical gold standard memory tests.

The prediction was made even more accurate by combining the four-week memory test score with information from the MRI brain scan that shows the size of a part of the brain responsible for memory, which is damaged by Alzheimer’s disease.

Testing long-term memory recall could enable earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

This is critical, as any future treatment which slows or stops Alzheimer’s disease from getting worse will be most effective if given at the very earliest stages of the disease, and before significant memory problems are detectible using current tests.

This study shows evidence for a low-cost and quick to administer screening tool that could be used to identify the very earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

It could also directly speed up the development of effective Alzheimer’s disease therapies, and enable earlier treatment when such therapies are available.

The next step for the researchers will be to test how specific this test is for detecting Alzheimer’s disease compared to other disorders that cause cognitive decline.

One author of the study is Dr. Alfie Wearn, a research associate in the Bristol Medical School.

The study is published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.

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