Assessing memory decline with neuropsychological tests
Prior to a new drug being approved, it has to be extensively tested and its efficacy verified. Improvement of symptoms in dementia and Alzheimer's disease are assessed using the Alzheimer Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS). However, this scale is considered to be too crude and the progression of the disease can be better assessed with neuropsychological tests, report Dutch scientists in the "Journal of Alzheimer's Disease".
In order to test how cognitive changes can best be evaluated, researchers at the University of Amsterdam undertook a study involving 62 persons with no, or mild, cognitive impairments (no dementia). They were examined using, MRI as well as five standard neuropsychological tests to measure brain atrophy, at the beginning of the study and after two years.
After two years, 28 participants were rated to be normal and 34 had mild cognitive impairment or had progressed to dementia, mainly Alzheimer's disease. The results were similar for both examination techniques, but MRI showed less pronounced differences between the normal and the impaired group and also less distinct differences in the rate of change in the abnormal group.
The scientists urged that neuropsychological tests should become the gold standard for Alzheimer's drug assessment. Studies using this method were also less time consuming and fewer patients needed to participate.
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