An "autobiographical memory" test may serve as an early Alzheimer's disease predictor and help researchers pick up on the warning signs before obvious symptoms of the disease develop, a study published Thursday said.
A team from the University of Arizona recently set about testing to see whether a person's recollection of previous events in their life could be an indicator of the early development of Alzheimer's disease.
The theory is that memory depends on areas of the brain that are vulnerable to early changes from the disease.
When the disease develops, the part of the brain that retains memory is one of the first brain structures damaged, which could account for one hallmark of early Alzheimer's, according to Alzheimer's Reading Room.
Researchers from the University of Arizona decided to put this to the test among a group of 35 healthy adults, half of whom carry the gene variant that nearly doubles the individual's chance of developing the disease.
They found that those with the genetic risk described memories with much less detail.
The findings were published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
Alzheimer's is a disease notoriously difficult to detect, making it tough for experts to develop effective treatments.
Compounding the situation is that most treatments are centered around slowing down and stopping the brain changes regarded as hallmarks to the disease, however, because it is so difficult to pick up on these hallmarks, treatments may be less effective.
University of Arizona neuropsychologist Matthew Grilli, lead author of the new research, hopes to be able to detect these brain changes before they begin to have any obvious effect on cognition and memory.
"The tests for early signs of Alzheimer's disease pathology are invasive and expensive, so this new cognitive test potentially could be used as a screen," Grilli said in a statement.
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