Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Macedonia - former Yugoslav Republic
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


  

Last Update: 17-09-2012  
Related category(ies):
Health & life sciences

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

The eye's a gateway for Alzheimer's test

With the steady increase in the life expectancy of Europe's population, researchers estimate that the number of people affected by age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, will increase dramatically in the next few years. This makes improving our understanding of the disease and its early diagnosis an important priority. New research, led by Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, in partnership with Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation trust, and published in the Journal of the American Aging Association, shows that people with Alzheimer's disease have difficulty with one particular type of eye-tracking test.

Eye-tracker used in the experiments © LU
Eye-tracker used in the experiments
©  LU

That a simple eye-tracking test could hold the key to earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis is an important finding, according to Dr Trevor Crawford from the Department of Psychology and the Centre for Ageing Research, Lancaster University. He noted that these new results were potentially very exciting as they demonstrated, for the first time, a connection with the memory impairment that is so often the first noticeable symptom in Alzheimer's disease.

'The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is currently heavily dependent on the results of a series of lengthy neuropsychological tests,' Dr Crawford said. 'However, patients with a dementia often find that these tests are difficult to complete due to a lack of clear understanding and lapse in their attention or motivation.

'Over the last 10 years researchers in laboratories around the world have been working on an alternative approach based on the brain's control of the movements of the eye as a tool for investigating cognitive abilities such as attention, cognitive inhibition and memory.'

In the study, 18 patients with Alzheimer's disease, 25 patients with Parkinson's disease, 17 healthy young people and 18 healthy older people were asked to follow the movements of light on a computer monitor, and in some instances they were asked to look the opposite way, away from the light.

What the research group found were stark contrasts in the eye-tracking measurements taken from the research sample. In particular, patients with Alzheimer's made mistakes on the task where they were asked to look away from the light and were unable correct those errors, despite the fact that they were able to respond perfectly normally when they were asked to look towards the light. These uncorrected errors were 10 times more frequent in the Alzheimer's patients compared to the control groups.

Researchers also measured memory function among those Alzheimer's patients who found the test difficult and were able to show a clear correlation with lower memory function. 'This study takes this work forward because we found strong evidence that the difficulty in noticing and correcting the errors was probably caused by a problem in the memory networks of the brain that allow us to store the spatial position of objects in the environment,' Dr Crawford explained. 'The light tracking test could play a vital role in diagnosis as it allows us to identify, and exclude number alternative explanations of the test results.'


Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use the search box at the top of the page to the right of the menu and then select "Information Centre" in the "Filter by" menu on the results page.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Lancaster University
Journal of the American Aging Association





  Top   Research Information Center