AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 1, 2018


Problems Finding Your Way Around may be Earliest Sign of Alzheimer's Disease, Study Suggests

Navigational skill test could diagnose brain changes long before memory fails

In a new study from Washington University in St. Louis, researchers may have found that increasing difficulties in building cognitive maps of new surroundings may indicate clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease. To further support this study, the area of the brain that is responsible for tasks such as this is also the first area of the brain that is affected by the disease before it progresses into other regions. “These findings suggest that navigational tasks designed to assess a cognitive mapping strategy could represent a powerful new tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition,” said senior author Denise Head, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences. “The spatial navigation task used in this study to assess cognitive map skills was more sensitive at detecting preclinical Alzheimer’s disease than the standard psychometric task of episodic memory,” she said. To read more on this study, click here

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