Mild cognitive impairment study offers insight on Alzheimer's

April 21, 2010, University of Wisconsin-Madison

(PhysOrg.com) -- People who are not aware they are developing mild memory problems as they age may develop Alzheimer's disease at a faster rate than those who do notice their memory is slipping.

Studying the part of the brain that appraises and makes decisions could help predict who is at risk for rapidly advancing Alzheimer's disease, according to a University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researcher.

"The disease is a significant public health concern with the number of cases rising dramatically," says Dr. Michele Ries, a neuropsychologist and researcher at the UW Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.3 million Americans live with the disease. There will be half a million new cases this year alone.

In Ries' study, published by the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, a group of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) were compared to a group of healthy older adults. All were given a battery of neuropsychological tests and performed a series of tasks during (fMRI).

Ries found that the brain's cortical midline area showed activity during self-assessment exercises and that MCI participants with less insight into their impairment had considerably less than those who were aware of their mental difficulties. Ries says with mild cognitive impairment is always a precursor to Alzheimer's disease, but people with MCI don't always develop Alzheimer's.

"Anosognosia, or unawareness of function loss, is beginning to be recognized as an important clinical symptom of MCI, and with studies like this one, we are starting to understand how these symptoms develop," says Ries.

Alzheimer's disease causes and also makes it difficult for patients to carry out basic activities of daily living, while with doesn't cause those kinds of problems. Ries says while there is some debate over whether there are memory difficulties that are associated with healthy aging, there is no clinical single tool that reliably distinguishes MCI from Alzheimer's disease.

Ries says health providers should be educated about the potential Alzheimer's disease connection to anosognosia and the safety concerns over those who are not aware of progressing impairment.

"You build a life, relationships, wisdom and knowledge. And then to have Alzheimer's disease take that all away in a gradual progressive fashion is a tragedy," says Ries.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.