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Could simple brain test be used to identify dementia?

Could simple brain test be used to identify dementia?
20th January 2014

A brain test that can be used in the home has proven useful when it comes to detecting memory and thinking problems in people aged over 50.

Researchers at the Ohio State University tested the effectiveness of the Self-Administered Geocognitive Examination (SAGE) on 1,047 volunteers.

It involved them being given a four-page questionnaire and identified that 28 per cent had some level of cognitive impairment, with older members of the group faring the worst.

The team believes the test could be used by doctors as "baseline measure" of people's ability to remember things and think clearly.

They also feel having a patient complete the test several times over the course of months or years would enable them to track changes that could signal dementia.

Published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, the study has been welcomed by Alzheimer's Research UK, but the charity's head of research Dr Simon Ridley, said further assessments are needed to test SAGE's suitability.

"One drawback of this study is that the test was not compared with other existing cognitive tests," he said.

"It's important to note that the test is not designed to diagnose dementia and people who are worried about their memory should seek advice from a doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis with a test at home."

He added that there is no sufficient evidence at present to suggest screening otherwise healthy people for memory problems would be beneficial.

A recent study conducted at the University of Leeds suggests that blood tests could improve early diagnosis rates for Alzheimer's disease.

Thanks to funding from Alzheimer's Research UK, researchers used technology capable of measuring levels of amyloid in the blood stream.

Plaques of the protein building up in the brain is one of the main causes of the illness and the team found that higher quantities in blood correlated with clusters in the cranium.

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes.