Breaking News
April 26, 2019 - Can Obesity Shrink Your Brain?
April 26, 2019 - This oral appliance could help you (and your partner) sleep better
April 26, 2019 - Myelination deficits cause abnormal hypersocial behavior associated with Williams syndrome
April 26, 2019 - New sepsis detector uses photonics to make accurate diagnosis in less than thirty minutes
April 26, 2019 - New study describes process to diagnose rare genetic diseases in record time
April 26, 2019 - Scientists and patients gather in Vancouver to discuss about Stevens-Johnson syndrome
April 26, 2019 - Advance in breakthrough cancer treatment eliminates serious side effects
April 26, 2019 - Discovery about cold sensing could pave way for new pain relief drugs
April 26, 2019 - Children often turn to sugary drinks instead of water
April 26, 2019 - Genome analysis shows the combined effect of many genes on cognitive traits
April 26, 2019 - Patients Caught In Middle Of Fight Between Health Care Behemoths
April 26, 2019 - Drug overdoses among adolescents and young adults on the rise
April 26, 2019 - Implementing a Paperless QC Micro Laboratory”
April 25, 2019 - Obesity linked to a reduction in gray matter
April 25, 2019 - Smart assistants could help combat opioid crisis
April 25, 2019 - Diagnostic stewardship strategy reduces inappropriate testing
April 25, 2019 - Three-antibiotic cocktail eradicates ‘persister’ Lyme bacteria in mouse model
April 25, 2019 - Study investigates how early blindness shapes sound processing
April 25, 2019 - Outcomes Worse for Cancer Patients Seen at Noncancer EDs
April 25, 2019 - Link found between temperament of high-risk infants and obesity
April 25, 2019 - Al Letson explores ties between journalists and doctors at Medicine and the Muse symposium
April 25, 2019 - New mobile phone game can detect people at risk of Alzheimer’s
April 25, 2019 - Scientists discover trigger region for absence epileptic seizures
April 25, 2019 - Stretchy wearable patch can do a health check while you work out
April 25, 2019 - Exercise activates brain circuits associated with memory in older adults
April 25, 2019 - Veggies, Fruits and Grains Keep Your Heart Pumping
April 25, 2019 - Healthy meal kits can boost children’s long-term health
April 25, 2019 - Designing an inexpensive surgical headlight: A Q&A with a Stanford surgeon
April 25, 2019 - States Weigh Banning A Widely Used Pesticide Even Though EPA Won’t
April 25, 2019 - Integrator complex proteins are crucial for healthy brain development in fruit flies, study finds
April 25, 2019 - Device converts brain signals into speech, offering hope for patients
April 25, 2019 - Measles vaccination rates are a ‘public health time bomb’
April 25, 2019 - Maths made easier for scientists students who shun the subject wins award
April 25, 2019 - Researchers decode how cancer drug works in brains of Parkinson’s disease patients
April 25, 2019 - Smarter Brain Cancer Trial Comes to Columbia
April 25, 2019 - Researchers Seek Sage Advice Of Elders On Aging Issues
April 25, 2019 - New chemical synthesis strategy leads to identification of novel, simpler derivatives
April 25, 2019 - Vanderbilt investigators discover link between vascular biology and eye disease
April 25, 2019 - Feces transplantation is effective and provides economic benefits
April 25, 2019 - Eisenhower Health first in Southern California to offer new lung valve treatment for COPD/emphysema
April 25, 2019 - Johns Hopkins researchers uncover role of neurotransmitter in the spread of aggressive cancers
April 25, 2019 - Porvair Sciences offers highly effective P3 microplate for biological sample clean-up
April 25, 2019 - Air pollution increases risk for respiratory hospitalization among childhood cancer survivors
April 25, 2019 - We are sitting more! How bad is that?
April 25, 2019 - Majority of stroke survivors not screened for osteoporosis, despite increased risk
April 25, 2019 - ADHD Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
April 25, 2019 - Cellular alterations increase vulnerability of obese and diabetic individuals to infection
April 25, 2019 - Association Insurance Pushes On Despite Court Ruling
April 25, 2019 - Traditional and e-cigarette users may be more receptive to smoking cessation interventions
April 25, 2019 - Delving into tumor’s cellular lineage may offer clues for customized therapies
April 25, 2019 - Two studies uncover brain mechanisms underlying decision making process
April 25, 2019 - Cardiometabolic Risk Better ID’d in Children Reclassified to Higher BP
April 25, 2019 - How the obesity epidemic is taking a toll on our bones and joints
April 25, 2019 - E-cigarettes contaminated with dangerous microbial toxins
April 25, 2019 - Researchers document specific characteristics of storefront tobacco advertisements
April 25, 2019 - Oncotype DX-guided treatment could reduce cost for breast cancer care, study suggests
April 25, 2019 - Predicting whether a patient will benefit from chemotherapy
April 25, 2019 - New review highlights how lifestyle affects our genes
April 25, 2019 - Study provides evidence that blood tests can detect Alzheimer’s risk
April 25, 2019 - Computer program mimics natural speech using brain signals from epilepsy patients
April 25, 2019 - Physicians turning to antibiotic alternatives for long-term acne treatment
April 25, 2019 - Preschool Is Prime Time to Teach Healthy Lifestyle Habits
April 25, 2019 - Study finds insidious and persistent discrimination among physician mothers
April 25, 2019 - Newly identified skin-gut communication helps illuminate link between food allergy and eczema
April 25, 2019 - Thiazide use linked with reduced risk of low energy fractures in people with Alzheimer’s
April 25, 2019 - Some women are biologically more resilient than others to PTSD
April 25, 2019 - The Current issue of “The view from here” is concerned with Partnerships and Alliances
April 25, 2019 - Imaging method reveals long-lived patterns in cells of the eye
April 25, 2019 - Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ The Abortion Wars Rage On
April 25, 2019 - Prolonged exposure therapy is more effective in treating veterans with PTSD, alcohol use disorder
April 24, 2019 - Our artificial cornea breakthrough could lead to self-assembling organs
April 24, 2019 - A Stanford black, female, gay surgery resident speaks out
April 24, 2019 - Donna Lynne on Extreme Sports, Lessons From the '60s, and Taking CUIMC to the Next Level
April 24, 2019 - Pain Clinics’ Doctors Needlessly Tested Hundreds Of Urine Samples, Court Records Show
April 24, 2019 - Researchers uncover potential clue to halt destruction of nerve cells in people with ALS
April 24, 2019 - Study uncovers reasons for poor mental health in bisexual people
April 24, 2019 - Screenings, interventions, and referrals can help adolescents overcome substance abuse
April 24, 2019 - Febrile seizures following vaccination are self-resolving and not dangerous
April 24, 2019 - Flow-UV inline UV-Visible spectrometer monitors dispersion in real time
April 24, 2019 - Rates of Marijuana Use in Cancer Patients on the Rise in U.S.
Researchers test autobiographical memory for early Alzheimer’s detection

Researchers test autobiographical memory for early Alzheimer’s detection

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Testing how well people remember past events in their lives could help medical professionals make early predictions about who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

Researchers administered an “autobiographical memory” test to a group of 35 healthy adults, about half of whom carry the gene variant APOE e4—a known genetic risk factor that nearly doubles the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. As a group, those with the genetic risk described memories with much less detail than those without it.

Sometimes called a disease with a clinically silent beginning, Alzheimer’s is difficult to detect early even though changes in the brain related to the disease may begin to happen years or even decades before an individual starts to exhibit memory difficulties, said UA neuropsychologist Matthew Grilli, lead author of the new research, which is published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

“This raises a huge challenge for developing effective treatments,” said Grilli, an assistant professor and director of the Human Memory Laboratory in the UA Department of Psychology. “The hope is that in the near future we will have drugs and other treatments that could potentially slow down, stop and even reverse some of these brain changes that we think are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The problem is that if we can’t detect who has these hallmarks early enough, these treatments may not be fully effective, if at all.”

Grilli’s goal is to help pick up on brain changes much earlier, before they begin to have an obvious effect on cognition and memory.

He and his UA colleagues Aubrey Wank, John Bercel and Lee Ryan decided to focus on autobiographical memory, or people’s recollection of past events in their lives, because this type of memory depends on areas of the brain that are vulnerable to early changes from Alzheimer’s disease.

“When we retrieve these complex types of memories that have multimodal details, they’re highly vivid or rich; they come with narratives, context and backstories,” Grilli said. “We’ve learned through cognitive neuroscience that the ability to recreate these memories in your mind’s eye depends on a widely distributed network in the brain, and it critically depends on regions of the brain that we know are compromised early on in Alzheimer’s disease pathology.”

In autobiographical interviews, study participants, who ranged in age from early-50s to 80, were asked to recall recent memories, memories from their childhood and memories from early adulthood with as much detail as possible. The interviewers—who did not know which participants had a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s—recorded and scored participants’ responses, evaluating which details added to the richness and vividness of the memories and which did not.

Those with the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, as a group, described memories with much less vivid detail than those without the risk factor, despite the fact that all study participants performed normally and comparably on a battery of other, standard neuropsychology tests.

“None of these individuals would be diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment,” Grilli said. “They are clinically normal, they are cognitively normal, but there’s this subtle difficulty one group has with retrieving real-world memories, which we think is because there are more people in the group who are at a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Not everyone with the gene variant APOE e4, which is present in about 25 percent of the population, will develop Alzheimer’s disease, and not everyone who develops Alzheimer’s has the gene.

“From this study, we can’t identify one person and say for sure this person is in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s the next stage of work that we need to do,” Grilli said. “But we know that as a group there probably are more people in the e4 carrier group that are in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease, and we think this is why they had a harder time generating these memories.”

Grilli said the next step is to study brain activity in the people who struggle to generate vivid autobiographical memories to see if they have observable changes in brain structure or activation of the regions of the brain affected early on by Alzheimer’s.

The hope is the work could lead to the development of a clinical test sensitive enough to the preclinical brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease that could be used to identify people who should undergo more extensive testing for early Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

“The tests for early signs of Alzheimer’s disease pathology are invasive and expensive, so this new cognitive test potentially could be used as a screen,” Grilli said. “It also could be used to help clinical trials. At the moment, it’s very difficult and expensive to conduct clinical trials of new drugs because it takes a very long time to determine whether that drug has had an impact on memory. If we have more sensitive measures, we might get answers sooner, especially if we’re trying to administer drugs before obvious signs of memory impairment are detectable.”


Explore further:
Personality changes during transition to developing mild cognitive impairment

More information:
Matthew D. Grilli et al, Evidence for Reduced Autobiographical Memory Episodic Specificity in Cognitively Normal Middle-Aged and Older Individuals at Increased Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (2018). DOI: 10.1017/S1355617718000577

Provided by:
University of Arizona

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles