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2009 Grants - Fleming
Early Detection of Mild Cognitive Impairment: Cognitive-communicative Change
Valarie Fleming, Ph.D.
Texas State University—San Marcos
San Marcos, Texas
2009 New Investigator Research Grant
Subtle changes in communication in adults may be an early sign Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. Although physicians encourage yearly examinations and early detection to prevent illness, decrease morbidity and reduce disability, early detection does not typically include periodic cognitive-communicative assessment. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an evolving, intermediate diagnostic category between normal cognitive aging and dementia in which individuals demonstrate cognitive performance that is impaired beyond that expected in normal aging. Differentiating MCI from normal cognition in aging has important social, clinical and scientific implications.
Valarie Fleming and colleagues will examine whether performance on spoken communication tasks will differentiate individuals with MCI from those with normal cognition in order to improve early detection and identification. In addition, periodic re-assessment will be completed to document the disease course.
The researchers will study 10 adults with a diagnosis of MCI and 10 age-matched neurologically healthy adults. Spoken communication abilities, cognitive flexibility and planning components of executive function will be assessed. The researchers hypothesize that complex communication abilities distinguish individuals with typical cognitive aging from those with MCI, and declines in communication will be apparent at specific time intervals for those with MCI.