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Study Finds Middle-aged Individuals at High Risk for Alzheimer’s Have Lower Navigation Scores: Implications for Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Middle-aged people at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease have lower navigation scores compared to other cognitive abilities

Entered 2024.03.01 19:00 Entered 2024.03.01 19:00 Modified 2024.03.01 18:49 Views 541

People at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease tended to have particularly low navigation scores even without symptoms. [사진=게티이미지뱅크]A new study suggests that people who have difficulty finding their way in middle age are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is what the health and medicine webzine ‘Health Day’ reported on the 29th of last month (local time) based on a paper by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the UK published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Dr Richard Oakley, deputy director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Association (AA), which funded the study, said: “The very early symptoms of dementia can be subtle and difficult to detect, but navigation problems are among the first changes in Alzheimer’s disease. “I think of it as one,” he said. “One in three people born today will develop dementia,” he said. “Early and accurate diagnosis of this condition is essential so that people can access the right support, plan for their future and receive appropriate treatment.” Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have the highest rate, accounting for 60-70% of all dementia patients.

Researchers conducted a test on 100 middle-aged people (ages 43 to 66) who did not have any of the standard symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of testing, they were about 25 years younger than the expected age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but were determined to be at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease due to factors such as genetics, family history or lifestyle.

The researchers had them wear virtual reality (VR) headsets and then navigate their way through a virtual environment. As a result, it was discovered that even though the subjects had no early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and had good scores on other cognitive tests, their route finding scores tended to be particularly low. The effect was more pronounced in men than in women.

The findings suggest that problems with orientation and navigating complex spaces may be a precursor to dementia. “Our results show that these types of changes in wayfinding skills may represent the earliest diagnostic sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Coco Newton, lead author of the paper and a researcher at UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. He focused on the gender differences between men and women in Alzheimer’s disease and said, “There is a need for additional research on this, as well as the need to take gender differences into account in diagnosis and future treatment.”

Lead researcher Professor Dennis Chan, a neuroscientist at UCL, said the VR test used in the study could one day become a standard way to assess who is at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Such a test would “help identify the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which is very important for rapid implementation of treatments,” he said.

The paper can be found at the following link:

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2024-03-01 10:00:16

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