New early clues iden­ti­fied point­ing to Alzheimer’s

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Mary Hui

WASH­ING­TON – Re­searchers have iden­ti­fied hear­ing loss and ver­bal flu­ency as new fac­tors that can pro­vide clues about cog­ni­tive health and aid in early de­tec­tion of Alzheimer’s dis­ease and other de­men­tias.

Rec­og­niz­ing signs of cog­ni­tive de­cline is es­pe­cially im­por­tant, ex­perts say, be­cause drug treat­ments and pre­ven­tion strate­gies are most ef­fec­tive at the ear­li­est stages of de­men­tia.

A study con­ducted by Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin re­searchers found a link be­tween hear­ing loss and mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, which can be a pre­cur­sor to Alzheimer’s. The study tracked a group of 783 peo­ple en­rolled in the Wis­con­sin Registry for Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion, a study group of peo­ple with a parental his­tory of Alzheimer’s.

Over a four-year pe­riod, 9.2 per­cent of the co­hort self-re­ported be­ing di­ag­nosed with hear­ing loss. Com­par­ing their ini­tial per­for­mance in cog­ni­tive and clin­i­cal as­sess­ments at the start of the study and their per­for­mance four years later, those who re­ported hear­ing loss were found to be more likely to score poorer on cog­ni­tive tests and roughly three times as likely to have mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, com­pared with those who re­ported nor­mal hear­ing.

The study is unique in that it ex­am­ined late mid­dle-aged adults, whereas most stud­ies usu­ally ex­am­ine older peo­ple, said Tay­lor Fields, a doc­toral stu­dent in the Neu­ro­science Train­ing Pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin School of Medicine and Pub­lic Health.

The hope is that iden­ti­fy­ing and treat­ing hear­ing loss is some­thing that a clin­i­cian can do quickly and eas­ily in a non-in­va­sive and af­ford­able way. Hear­ing loss also of­fers an ac­ces­si­ble way to de­tect signs of cog­ni­tive de­cline early on, Fields added.

An­other Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin study found a cor­re­la­tion be­tween sub­tle changes in ev­ery­day speech and early mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment. Re­searchers an­a­lyzed two 1-minute speech sam­ples, taken two years apart, from 264 study par­tic­i­pants, also drawn from the Wis­con­sin Registry for Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion.

Based on cog­ni­tive test­ing over eight to 10 years, roughly a quar­ter of the par­tic­i­pants were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing early mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, and this sub­set of par­tic­i­pants were found to have de­clined faster in ver­bal flu­ency in the two speech sam­ples. The con­tent of their speech was less spe­cific, with a higher use of pro­nouns such as “she,” “it,” and “them.” Their flu­ency was also more dis­rupted, with more hes­i­ta­tions, word rep­e­ti­tions, and filled pauses like “um” and “uh.”

In ad­di­tion, the par­tic­i­pants who were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing early mild cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment used less com­plex syn­tax and shorter sen­tences in their speech, and took longer to ex­press the same amount of con­tent as the cog­ni­tively healthy group.

This study is “a way of quan­ti­fy­ing ev­ery­day talk­ing,” said Kimberly Mueller, a re­search as­so­ci­ate with the Wis­con­sin Alzheimer’s In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin School of Medicine and Pub­lic Health.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.