A test to identify famous faces may help spot early dementia

Posted under Uncategorized on August 14th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new study suggests that asking patients to identify pictures of famous people may help spot early dementia.

A study published in the journal Neurology found that people with early onset primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a rare form of dementia, found it difficult to identify 20 black and white pictures of famous people such as Princess Diana, Elvis Presley and Bill Gates.

The research team found that people with early-onset dementia scored significantly worse in recognizing the faces and names of the 20 celebrities, correctly identifying 79% of the celebrities’ faces, and remembering only 46% of the corresponding names. People without dementia were able to identify 97% of the celebrities’ faces, and 93% of the corresponding names.

Dr Marie Janson of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “It's important to be able to give an accurate diagnosis for people with dementia so they can gain access to the right care and treatments, but the different forms of dementia can be difficult to identify.”

She continued: “While this test is not yet ready to be used as a widespread tool for diagnosis, this study suggests that assessments of face recognition could be useful for helping to detect primary progressive aphasia.”

“These results suggest that the test used in this study could help shed light on the specific cognitive problems experienced by people with this rare form of dementia.”

One of the researchers on the study, Tamar Gefen, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said: “These tests also differentiate between recognizing a face and actually naming it, which can help identify the specific type of cognitive impairment.”

“In addition to its practical value in helping us identify people with early dementia, this test may also help us understand how the brain works to remember and retrieve its knowledge of words and objects.”

It’s hoped that research such as this will improve understanding of the early stages of dementia, and allow researchers to fine-tune methods for detecting the early symptoms.

Tags: alzheimer's research, brain training, cognitive research, early symptoms of Alzheimer's, early symptoms of dementia, image recognition



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