AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis Complicated by Reading Problems

A study recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed a new clue to the reasons behind Alzheimer’s disease misdiagnosis. The study found that older adults with a history of reading problems perform similarly on some neuropsychological tests to those who show signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) associated with early Alzheimer’s disease. The findings, based on the results of a Stony Brook University-led research team in collaboration with Boston University School of Medicine, emphasized the need for professionals to take into account developmental history and have a broad understanding of neuropsychological testing when interpreting the meaning of low memory test scores. In the paper, titled “Lifelong Reading Disorder and Mild Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Diagnosis,” lead author and colleagues assessed the relationship between MCI classification and suspected reading disorder in 1,804 community-living adults followed from 1999 to 2005. On average, participants were 62 years of age. Individuals with previous dementia, stroke and other neurological disorders were excluded from the study. “We found a strong relationship between poor reading ability and low memory test scores. One key example from the findings is that individuals with evidence of lifelong reading difficulty were two- to 3 ½- times more likely than their peers to score at a level suggestive of possible memory decline on two tests commonly used to evaluate memory complaints in older adults,” said the lead author. The study assessed memory recall, reading, visual processing and executive functioning using tests frequently employed in the assessment of cognitive complaints in older adults. Specific areas of memory analyzed included recall of previously presented short stories and word pairs, and the ability to draw from memory previously presented visual figures. To read more about this study, click here.

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