Memory Tests Identify Alzheimer’s Risk at Early Age
Researchers from Cornell University and the Institute for Human Neuroscience have created a test to distinguish between healthy aging and cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s disease years before symptoms appear.
Memory abilities don’t necessarily decline with age. The team looked at two kinds of memory, reconstructive and recollective. Reconstructive memory is recalling a word or event by putting together clues from its meaning and category. For example, recalling the word “dog” by remembering the category household pets seen earlier. Decline in reconstructive memory is associated with cognitive decline and high risk of Alzheimer’s disease but not with healthy aging. Recollective memory is recalling a word or event exactly, and decline is associated with healthy aging only.
Researchers observed that reconstructive memory is very stable in healthy individuals so decline is an obvious marker for dementia. These findings could lead to early detection and treatment monitoring as well as attempts to improve certain memory types.