An easy-to-use computerized test that measures the speed and accuracy of a person's ability to pick animals in photos can be a more effective tool for detecting early signs of dementia than standard pen and paper tests, according to a new study.
The study, published in Nature on Thursday, shows that a visual processing test, called Integrated Cognitive Assessment, can be used as a valid and reliable tool to assess its cognitive performance. This test was developed by British Cognition Inc., which has its headquarters in North America in Vancouver.
Nature's study authors, including chief executive of the Sina Habibi co-marketing, point out that ongoing tests that are routinely used to screen for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, depend on language skills and user education . This means that patients who do not speak English as a first language, for example, may not work also if they are tested in English, not in their native language. In addition, standard pen and paper tests usually "suffer from bias in learning," the authors write. That is, the results of patients can be improved with practice, and in that way, they can not reflect the changes in their function of the brain.
These current paper-based tests include the Mini Mental State Examination, the Cognitive Examination of Adenbrook and the Cognitive Assessment of Montreal. The latest test, developed by neurologist Ziad Nasreddin in Montreal, received significant media attention last year when allegedly US President Donald Trump passed with a perfect result. It includes a series of tasks, such as drawing a clock and naming animals.
To address the shortcomings of these conventional tests, a number of digital cognitive screening tests have emerged as potential substitutes – among them, Integrated Cognitive Assessment of the Cohesion.
"What we hope to develop here, and we believe that we have developed here, is a very useful tool that can make a significant difference," said chief operating officer for cohesionism, Thomas Sawyer. "It's easy to administer, it's free from many other problems [associated with standard screening tests], so we think it's a very important tool that can be used to really help [an] early diagnosis ".
The test involves participants seeing a series of black and white photos that depend on 100 milliseconds per iPad. Participants are asked to touch the left or right sides of the screen, depending on whether they see the image of an animal in the photo.
In the Nature study, researchers asked 448 participants to take the test. Then they compared the results of the participants' tests with a series of standard pen and paper tests.
Dr Habibi and Dr. Sawyer explained that their test is based on research that shows that visual processing problems may be an earlier sign of dementia than memory problems, which not only appear later, but also tend to be subjective. Since the level of difficulty in recognizing animals in photographs varies, starting from the bear in the center of the photo to the bird in the bush, the test can be used to detect those with very early cognitive impairment.
Dr Habibi said his company's tool is intended to be used as part of a regular medical examination. If the results of computer generated in computers in the red or yellow zone, their doctor may ask them to take the test or send them to a memory clinic or specialist to perform further investigations, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shooting achieve a diagnosis.
"The dementia, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's at the moment is very, very difficult and very expensive," said Dr. Habibi. By providing an easy way to screen patients, he said he hoped that people with dementia could be diagnosed much earlier.
He added that the tool can also be used for research to test how well participants respond to different treatments. The company will seek Canada's health approval after a clinical validation study, which is expected to be completed by early 2020.