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Decline in Concentration, Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

r> No one knows why mild cognitive impairment affects the memory then spreads to executive function as the disease moves toward Alzheimer’s, says Dr. Petersen.

In future studies of mild cognitive impairment, measuring whether a patient has moved from memory impairment alone to weakened executive function could help determine whether a particular drug is successful in slowing or stopping the disease, he says.

If patients or their families notice progress from memory decline to problems with executive function, they should inform their physicians and consider medication to potentially slow the patient's deterioration, if they have not already done so, says Dr. Petersen.

Although previously neurologists have speculated that executive function may be next to wane following memory as one develops Alzheimer's, this study represents a systematic demonstration of the progression of impairment.

To conduct this study, the researchers identified 354 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, a pre-Alzheimer's disease condition, and followed them for an average of 3.1 years, assessing them for impairment in the brain's executive function, and visuospatial and language abilities. Early in the course of mild cognitive impairment, the patients' attention capacity began to diminish. Executive function continued to decline steadily over the course of follow-up.

(Source: Newswise)
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