Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most Neuropsychological Tests Don't Tell Alzheimer's Disease From Vascular Dementia, Study Finds

Date:
July 11, 2009
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Most of the cognitive tests that have been used to decide whether someone has Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia have not been very helpful when used alone. A new report concluded that when older people are confused and forgetful, doctors should base their diagnoses on many different types of information, including medical history and brain imaging.

Most of the cognitive tests that have been used to decide whether someone has Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia have not been very helpful when used alone. A new report published by the American Psychological Association concluded that when older people are confused and forgetful, doctors should base their diagnoses on many different types of information, including medical history and brain imaging.

Both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia affect learning and memory, behavior and day-to-day function. Even so, they're caused by different problems in the brain and require different medical approaches. It's important to tell them apart accurately, stresses the study in July's Neuropsychology. Valid diagnoses can help doctors treat patients more effectively, and help patients and families better understand their situations.

Jane Mathias, PhD, and Jennifer Burke, M.Psych.(Clinical), both from the University of Adelaide, analyzed 81 previously published studies that compared the cognitive testing of people diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer's (4,867) and vascular type (2,263). The average age across participants was 75.

Of the 118 different tests that were used in more than one study, Mathias and Burke found that only two were able to adequately differentiate between Alzheimer's and vascular dementia.

The Emotional Recognition Task (the ability to identify facial expressions in photographs and match emotional expressions to situations, at which people with Alzheimer's were better) and Delayed Story Recall (at which people with vascular dementia were better), were the only tests that appeared to reliably tell the two groups apart.

Even so, whether due to individual variability (people start at different baselines) or possible undiagnosed mixtures of Alzheimer's and vascular disease, there was enough overlap between the two groups to signal the need for more information. Because of these muddied waters, "The combined picture is what's important, so we need to look at how we can improve diagnosis by combining different measures," said Mathias.

Of note, many commonly used tests -- such as Digit Span (repeating a set of numbers forward, backward), verbal fluency (generating words by first letter or category, such as animals), drawing tasks and more – were unable to distinguish between dementia types. "While these tests may assist in diagnosing dementia, they do not adequately discriminate between Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia," wrote the authors. Teasing apart different types of dementia is often harder than deciding whether someone is showing cognitive decline in the first place, Mathias explained.

Although the two tests that worked best would most reliably contribute to a clinical diagnosis, "All cognitive tests should be used cautiously and only in conjunction with other information (imaging, medical history) when diagnosing patients," the authors said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. L. Mathias, J. Burke. Cognitive Functioning in Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia: A Meta-Analysis. Neuropsychology, 2009; Vol. 23, No. 4.

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Most Neuropsychological Tests Don't Tell Alzheimer's Disease From Vascular Dementia, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090708132822.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2009, July 11). Most Neuropsychological Tests Don't Tell Alzheimer's Disease From Vascular Dementia, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090708132822.htm
American Psychological Association. "Most Neuropsychological Tests Don't Tell Alzheimer's Disease From Vascular Dementia, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090708132822.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins