Winter 2009: Of Note

Early dementia revealed by simple test

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A rapid screening test to detect mild cognitive impairment—often the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease—has been developed by Emory researchers. The findings, published in the online Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, show that the combination of a three-minute cognitive screening test called the Mini-Cog, along with a Functional Activities Questionnaire answered by a friend or relative, can identify people with mild cognitive impairment and undiagnosed dementia.

“Since current medications can only delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but are not able to reverse its effects, a test like this is key to help individuals detect this devastating disease earlier and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible,” says Associate Professor of Neurology James Lah, lead investigator.

The test is inexpensive, easy to administer and score, and requires minimal training, says Lah. The first portion of the screening consists of a clock-drawing task and three-item recall that typically took the research participant less than five minutes to complete.

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