Navigation Links
Fighting Alzheimer's before its onset

Montreal, September 10, 2012 By the time older adults are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the brain damage is irreparable. For now, modern medicine is able to slow the progression of the disease but is incapable of reversing it. What if there was a way to detect if someone is on the path to Alzheimer's before substantial and non-reversible brain damage sets in?

This was the question Erin K. Johns, a doctoral student in Concordia University's Department of Psychology and member of the Center for Research in Human Development (CRDH), asked when she started her research on older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These adults show slight impairments in memory, as well as in "executive functions" like attention, planning, and problem solving. While the impairments are mild, adults with MCI have a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"We wanted to help provide more reliable tools to identify people who are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's so that they can be targeted for preventive strategies that would stop brain damage from progressing," says Johns.

The new study was published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society and was funded by the Quebec Network for Research on Aging and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In it, Johns and her colleagues found that people with MCI are impaired in several aspects of executive functioning, the biggest being inhibitory control.

This ability is crucial for self-control: everything from resisting buying a candy bar at the checkout aisle to resisting the urge to mention the obvious weight gain in a relative you haven't seen in a while. Adults with MCI also had trouble with tests that measure the ability to plan and organize.

Johns and her colleagues found that all the adults with MCI they tested were impaired in at least one executive function and almost half performed poorly in all the executive function tests. This is in sharp contrast with standard screening tests and clinical interviews, which detected impairments in only 15 percent of those with MCI.

"The problem is that patients and their families have difficulty reporting executive functioning problems to their physician, because they may not have a good understanding of what these problems look like in their everyday life." says Johns. "That's why neuropsychological testing is important."

Executive function deficits affect a person's everyday life and their ability to plan and organize their activities. Even something as easy as running errands and figuring out whether to go to the drycleaners or to the supermarket can be difficult for adults with MCI. Detecting these problems early could improve patient care and treatment planning.

"If we miss the deficits, we miss out on an opportunity to intervene with the patient and the family to help them know what to expect and how to cope," says Johns. She is now conducting a follow-up study funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research, along with her supervisor, Natalie Phillips, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and member of CRDH.

Johns hopes her continued research will lead to a better understanding of why these deficits start at such an early stage of Alzheimer's and what other tools could be used for earlier detection of the disease.

Rewarding research: In recognition of the excellence of this research, Johns was awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aging Age+ Prize.

Contact: Clea Desjardins
514-848-2424 x5068
Concordia University

Related medicine news :

1. Toward medicines that recruit the bodys natural disease-fighting proteins
2. UCI microbiologists find new approach to fighting viral illnesses
3. Mayo Clinic: Drug duo turns on cancer-fighting gene in kidney, breast cancers
4. Male Ontario students show declines in fighting; females show elevated bullying and mental distress
5. Fighting obesity with thermal imaging
6. Ordinary chickens may be extraordinary in fighting cancer, says Texas A&M researcher
7. Why current strategies for fighting obesity are not working
8. Parents Fighting May Have Long-Lasting Effect on Kids
9. Moffitt researcher, colleagues find success with new immune approach to fighting some cancers
10. 2-1-1 could be effective tool in fighting cancer disparities
11. Living longer - variability in infection-fighting genes can be a boon for male survival
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... has focused on providing comprehensive solutions involving adult stem cell therapies to patients ... officially deemed the “Regenestem” name as a Registered Trademark (RTM). , Organizations are ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 25, 2015 , ... Bunion Bootie , the newest ... of the early holiday shopping season. Starting Wednesday November 25th, Bunion Booties are ... Friday promotional pricing is in addition to any automatic discounts applied when buying ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Eric C. Seidel, ... many benefits of the revolutionary BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus 2.0™ system. This advanced laser ... used by a dentist in Gettysburg, PA . From routine visits to ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... New patients who wish to seek treatment for missing teeth can ... her Mississauga, ON practice. Dr. Williams has been providing dental service for over 34 ... Missing teeth can lead to a variety of complications if they are not replaced ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Charitable giving is at its peak during the holidays. In fact, ... the year totalling over $358 billion in 2014. With more than 1.5 million ... individuals who want to “give back” during the holidays. , “With so many charities ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... - Global Forecast to 2020" report to their ... for 37.21% of the total market share in 2014. ... region is projected to growth at the highest CAGR ... primarily to the fast growing water, industrial gas treatment, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 25, 2015 WuXi PharmaTech (Cayman) Inc. ("WuXi" ... open-access R&D capability and technology platform company serving the ... China and the ... extraordinary general meeting of shareholders held today, the Company,s ... and approve the previously announced agreement and plan of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... N.C. , Nov. 24, 2015  In the ... projects in an effort to quickly uncover new insights, ... --> --> However, ... a market research project and ensure that all rules ... and industry standards. Another major barrier to efficiently launching ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: