signs of Alzheimer's disease are present before clinical symptoms
ever appear, according to researchers from the University
of California San Diego School of Medicine.
reported in Neuropsychology on their study, which included
40 participants who are part of a long-term study at UCSD
Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
all participants were symptom-free when they took the test,
20 patients were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease within
a year or two of testing, while the other 20 have remained
symptom-free several years later.
included naming common items from pictures, and reconstructing
drawings of block structures using actual building blocks.
found that the pre-Alzheimer group "had much greater
performance gaps between their ability to name objects and
their ability to reconstruct the block images."
members of the control group had much lower performance gaps,
and performed more consistently in both areas.
saw a largest discrepancy between the results of the non-verbal
spatial tests and the verbal tests in the subjects who later
were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease," said Mark Jacobson,
Ph. D., research psychologist with the VA Healthcare System,
assistant project scientist with the UCSD department of psychiatry,
and lead author of the study.
these changes are very subtle and not noticeable if you are
only looking at one single area, our findings suggest that
we should be comparing performance in different areas as they
relate to one another to detect early changes in cognitive
function," Jacobson said.
of April 14, 2002