Research reveals new insights into Alzheimer
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Research reveals new insights into Alzheimer’s disease

Research led by the University of Hertfordshire, UK, could significantly change the understanding of cognitive processes that are most impaired at very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings, published in the journal Neuropsychology, could potentially be used to detect the condition at an earlier stage and improve diagnostic accuracy by creating new cognitive tests that are more sensitive to brain pathology than those currently in use.

The research discovered that people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) – at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – found spontaneous prospective memory tasks to be cognitively as demanding as more difficult, demanding tasks.

The research study, funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) Fellowship, addressed prospective memory in people with aMCI who have increased conversion rates to Alzheimer’s disease and are most likely to benefit from early diagnosis and disease management.

During the study, 38 people with aMCI and 46 healthy adults completed an engaging ‘quiz-like’ task of identifying the profession of famous faces.

Results highlighted that in comparison to the healthy group, participants with aMCI were significantly more impaired on responding to pictures of politicians, but there were no group differences in responding to faces with glasses.

Lia Kvavilashvili, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Dementia is one of the key 21st Century challenges. It is on the rise and presents significant challenges to healthcare, as well as to wider society. In the absence of pharmacological cure, early identification and disease management has become an urgent priority for clinicians and caregivers. However, there is lack of clarity about the diagnostic accuracy of tests for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), with no gold standard for diagnosis.

“We now need to launch a systematic and more targeted investigation of this spontaneous retrieval deficit in people with aMCI by studying other cognitive tasks with spontaneous retrieval. This may ultimately lead to the development of a set of new (and simple) tests that can be used in primary and secondary care to increase the accuracy of diagnosis at pre-clinical and aMCI stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”