Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that damages a person’s ability to think, remember, and perform basic functions. According to the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s affects more than 6 million Americans, mostly ages 65 and older. Though the neurological damage from the disease is irreversible, early detection and intervention has been shown to slow its progression.
Before the onset of Alzheimer’s physical symptoms, the most commonly used method to measure an individual’s risk of developing the disease is through measuring levels of certain proteins, such as amyloid beta and tau proteins, in spinal fluid. This test is invasive, painful, and expensive.
Now, a team from Caltech and the Huntington Medical Research Institutes, have made progress toward developing a simple behavioral test to measure an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s before any symptoms arise.
The research was conducted in the laboratory of Shinsuke Shimojo, Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology. A paper describing the findings appears in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia on September 20. Shimojo is an affiliated faculty member with the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech.