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2011 Grants - Goldberg
Longitudinal Study of a Performance-Based Measure of Functional Competence in MCI
Terry E. Goldberg, Ph.D
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
2011 Investigator -Initiated Research Grant
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which brain function declines below normal but not enough to be diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. Many, but not all, individuals who develop MCI eventually develop Alzheimer's disease. Researchers agree that interventions to slow or halt cognitive decline will be most beneficial and effective if they work in the earliest stages of decline, such as in people with MCI. In order to test whether such interventions are effective, the researchers need sensitive and reliable ways to measure cognitive function and how it changes in people with MCI or early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
Terry E. Goldberg, Ph.D, and colleagues are studying ways to measure cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment. They are focusing on measures of everyday functional abilities, such as the ability to write a check or choose a bus route. In a preliminary study, the researchers found that a test of functional ability known as the UCSD Performance-based Skills Assessment (UPSA) was a sensitive way to measure functional competence in people with MCI and early Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Goldberg and colleagues have now proposed a more extensive study of the UPSA to determine if it can detect changes in functional competence over time (longitudinally). The researchers plan to use the UPSA to measure functional competence in a group of people who have either MCI or Alzheimer's disease, then repeat the measurement six weeks later and again after one year. They will compare the UPSA with another commonly used test known as the Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) to determine which is the best for detecting changes in functional competence over time. These studies will provide essential information about how to measure functional competence in future trials of interventions to slow or halt cognitive decline.