Computerized Cognition Test Provides Better Assessment than Observation
MELBOURNE, Australia -- August 25, 2014
Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this week suggests
healthy older adults are less capable of observing their own cognitive decline
over an 18 month period than Cogstate’s computerized brief battery (CBB). The
study, conducted by neuropsychologists, also indicated that close family
members were unable to perceive decline in the cognitive behavior of their
partner and trial participant in social settings.
The findings suggest that early identification of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) may
be more accurate when based on objective assessment of cognitive function
rather than that reported by individuals or their spouses.
It is widely accepted that earlier detection of cognitive abnormalities in
patients is crucial to the timely commencement of professional care and
enrolment in clinical trials. Family members can observe major changes in
cognitive function, but cannot accurately detect the smaller changes of early
“This is important because it shows that in the very early stages of
Alzheimer’s disease, individuals or their spouses have no insight at all into
the progressively worsening cognitive function,” said Dr. Paul Maruff, Chief
Science Officer at Cogstate Ltd (CGS.AX). “By the time individuals meet
clinical criteria for mild cognitive impairment, they have progressed beyond
AD in its earliest stages. Therefore, we should be assessing cognitive
function prospectively and objectively, as opposed to merely asking these
people about their memory.”
Dr. Maruff led a team of researchers in the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and
Lifestyle (AIBL) study, which observed the ability of trial participants to
judge their own cognitive health. The 289 healthy older adult participants had
no current diagnosis of dementia.
Subjects were divided into two groups based on whether they exhibited low or
high amyloid-beta (Aβ) protein fragment levels. The formation of amyloid in
the brain is known to signal the beginning of AD processes. Just as we may not
notice the early effects of cholesterol build-up in our arteries, we may not
notice small changes in our brain’s performance from Aβ growth. To measure Aβ
levels, all subjects underwent a positron emission tomography (PET)
neuroimaging scan, a known accurate means of detecting Aβ.
Volunteers began by taking the Memory Complaint Questionnaire, which asked
them to assess their perceived memory decline in common everyday scenarios. A
close family member also completed a questionnaire asking their opinion of the
subject’s cognitive performance. Both surveys were repeated after 18 months,
providing a subjective perspective on changes in cognitive function.
In addition, at baseline and 18 months, the subjects completed the Cogstate
Brief Battery (CBB), a collection of computerized tasks that test multiple
cognitive skills. Since the CBB has been validated in many previous studies as
a sensitive measurement tool of cognitive impairment, the test results in the
current study provided a reliable, objective snapshot of changes over time.
The subjective tests showed no changes over 18 months. However, over the same
period, the objective CBB revealed a moderate decline in cognitive function
for the high Aβ group. The research team concluded that it is very difficult
for people to measure their own cognitive health and detect subtle differences
in their memory and that subtle declines in cognitive function are best
detected using a computerized assessment, such as the CBB.
The researchers have called for scheduled, objective, computerized cognitive
tests as part of standard care. They note that in Canada, primary care
physicians are already using a version of the CBB, Cognigram, to objectively
assess the cognitive function of patients.
Cogstate Ltd (ASX:CGS) is a multi-faceted cognitive assessment company,
focused on the development and commercialisation of rapid, computerised tests
of cognition (brain function). Cogstate commercializes its technology in three
Clinical Trials: In the clinical drug trial market, Cogstate technology and
associated services are used by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to
quantify the effect of drugs or other interventions on human subjects
participating in clinical trials.
Concussion: In the area of sports related concussion, Cogstate’s technology
has been used by a number of highly regarded institutions and sporting
organisations around the world for almost 10 years.
Healthcare: In the primary care or general practice setting, COGNIGRAM™
assesses cognition in patients and the reports generated on the basis of this
assessment can allow physicians to identify subtle changes that could be
indicative of the early stage of a neurodegenerative disease, such as
Dan Peterson, +1-203-773-5010
Kyahn Williamson, +61 3 9866 4722
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