Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drowsiness, staring and other mental lapses may signal Alzheimer's disease

Date:
January 19, 2010
Source:
Washington University School of Medicine
Summary:
Cognitive fluctuations, or episodes when train of thought temporarily is lost, are more likely to occur in older persons who are developing Alzheimer's disease than in their healthy peers, according to scientists. Cognitive fluctuations include excessive daytime sleepiness, staring into space and disorganized or illogical thinking.

Cognitive fluctuations, or episodes when train of thought temporarily is lost, are more likely to occur in older persons who are developing Alzheimer's disease than in their healthy peers, according to scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Cognitive fluctuations* include excessive daytime sleepiness, staring into space and disorganized or illogical thinking.

"If you have these lapses, they don't by themselves mean that you have Alzheimer's," says senior author James Galvin, M.D., a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Such lapses do occur in healthy older adults. But our results suggest that they are something your doctor needs to consider if he or she is evaluating you for problems with thinking and memory."

The study appears in the Jan. 19 issue of Neurology.

Earlier research had associated cognitive fluctuations with another form of dementia called dementia with Lewy bodies, but little information existed on the potential for links between Alzheimer's and such lapses.

Data for the new study came from Alzheimer's disease evaluations of 511 older adults with memory problems. Average age of the participants was 78. Researchers gave participants standard tests of thinking and memory skills. They also interviewed participants and a family member, checking for prolonged daytime sleepiness, drowsiness or lethargy in spite of sufficient sleep the night before, periods of disorganized or illogical thinking, or instances of staring into space for long periods of time.

A total of 12 percent of the participants had at least three of these symptoms, meeting the criteria for cognitive fluctuations. Those with mental lapses were 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Of 216 diagnosed with very mild or mild dementia, 25 had mental lapses; of the 295 with no dementia, only two had mental lapses. In addition, participants with mental lapses did worse on tests of memory and thinking than people without mental lapses.

"We have some ideas about why the biology of dementia with Lewy bodies causes these mental lapses, but nothing comparable for Alzheimer's," Galvin says. "It's possible that some of the patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in this study will go on to develop dementia with Lewy bodies, but at the time of the study, they weren't showing any of the Lewy body dementia's core features."

Lewy body dementia, which causes clumps of proteins known as Lewy bodies to form in neurons, is thought to be the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's. Clinically, it can overlap with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Pronounced cognitive fluctuations are a hallmark of Lewy body dementia, as are visual hallucinations and rapid eye movement behavior sleep disorder.

Galvin suggests that further study is needed to determine the best way to include mental lapses in diagnostic procedures for Alzheimer's.

Funding from the National Institute on Aging supported this research.

*People with three or four of the following symptoms met the criteria for having mental lapses:

  • Feeling drowsy or lethargic all the time or several times per day despite getting enough sleep the night before
  • Sleeping two or more hours before 7 p.m.
  • Having times when the person's flow of ideas seems disorganized, unclear, or not logical
  • Staring into space for long periods

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Escandon A, Al-Hammadi N, Galvin JE. Effect of cognitive fluctuation on neuropsychological performance in aging and dementia. Neurology, Jan. 19, 2010

Cite This Page:

Washington University School of Medicine. "Drowsiness, staring and other mental lapses may signal Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118161943.htm>.
Washington University School of Medicine. (2010, January 19). Drowsiness, staring and other mental lapses may signal Alzheimer's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118161943.htm
Washington University School of Medicine. "Drowsiness, staring and other mental lapses may signal Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118161943.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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