Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a reality many people face as they age. Alzheimer’s, itself, is a neurodegenerative disorder that impairs brain function by causing large areas of neuronal and synaptic loss, affecting memory and cognitive capabilities. Currently, at least 747,000 Canadians are afflicted with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
As with most disorders, early diagnosis is vital in working to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. Among the many researchers currently developing methods of early detection and diagnosis is Dr. George Stothart of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. He and his team are developing a test known as the “Fastball EEG” which could revolutionize the way in which Alzheimer's is detected. The test itself takes two-minutes and does not require the participant to carry out any specific tasks. Rather, it is a passive test that involves showing a series of images to participants and measuring the participant’s recognition memory based on the brain wave activity recorded by the Electroencephalogram (EEG). Moreover, it uses pre-existing technology already available in most hospitals.
According to Dr. Stothart, “the person being assessed doesn’t need to understand the test, or even respond, they simply watch a screen of flashing images and by the way we manipulate the images that appear we can learn an enormous amount about what their brain is, or is not, able to do”.
Dr. Stothart hopes that this diagnostic method, along with being easy to implement in hospitals, can shorten the gap between the onset of Alzheimer’s and its detection.
“Ultimately the Holy Grail of a tool like this would be a dementia screening tool used in middle age for everyone, regardless of symptoms, in the same way we test for high blood pressure”, Dr. Stothart says
The original study carried out by Dr. Stothart and his team can be found here.
Did you know?
This past September 21 was World Alzheimer’s Day - learn more here about some of the upcoming events and activities regarding Alzheimer's that you can get involved with.
Alzheimer's Association. (n.d.). Alzheimer's & dementia help: Canada. Alzheimer's Association. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.alz.org/ca/dementia-alzheimers-canada.asp.
"fastball" test could passively diagnose alzheimer's. Neuroscience from Technology Networks. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/fastball-test-could-passively-diagnose-alzheimers-353834.
Henderson, R. by E. (2021, September 21). Researchers pioneer simple but revolutionary approach to early alzheimer's diagnosis. News. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210921/Researchers-pioneer-simple-but-revolutionary-approach-to-early-Alzheimers-diagnosis.aspx.
Ross, C., Taylor, M., Fullwood, N., & Allsop, D. (2018, December 12). Liposome delivery systems for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296687/.