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2017 Grants - Thomas
Cognitive Process Scores to Improve Preclinical AD Detection
Kelsey R. Thomas, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego – Health Sciences
San Diego, California
2017 Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship (AARF)
Can the strategy or "the process" an individual uses on a test be added to measure early cognitive impairment?
Neuropsychological testing has been used to identify deficits in memory and learning that may indicate an individual is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. There is a need for more sensitive measures of changes in memory and learning that can be used with other biomarkers to more accurately identify individuals at very early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Neuropsychological tests measure various aspects of learning and memory to create an index score. Many of these tests also produce a process score that is based on how the individual approached the test; for example, the strategies the individual used to remember lists of words. Process scores may be useful for identifying subtle early patterns of difficulty or inefficiency in thinking, leading to a sensitive early measurement of cognitive impairment.
Kelsey R. Thomas, Ph.D., and colleagues propose to use data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), which includes up to 10 years of biomarker and neuropsychological test results on more than 1700 individuals. They will determine whether adding process scores to neuropsychological test index scores or biomarker test results increases the ability to diagnose early-stage Alzheimer's disease. They will also determine whether process scores can predict which individuals will progress from subtle cognitive decline to mild cognitive impairment. To confirm their findings, they will repeat these analyses using data from a separate group of individuals enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study.
This study may reveal that addition of process scores from neuropsychological tests to other test scores and biomarkers may improve the identification of persons with very early-stage Alzheimer's disease.