Poor Directional Skills Can Lead to Alzheimer’s in Later Life

Well, do not pop out of your chair while reading the title. If you have poor directional skills, you might not necessarily be a victim of… Melisa Silver - May 9, 2016

Well, do not pop out of your chair while reading the title. If you have poor directional skills, you might not necessarily be a victim of Alzheimer’s disease in later life, however, study suggests that it might be a small sign of the disease.

Many of us are too bad at remembering directions, and we at times tend to lose ourselves in new surroundings. Hopefully, it is not the case for all, but it could be a teeny tiny early sign of Alzheimer’s disease in some instances.

Since the researchers from Washington University in St. Louis claim that it is an extremely early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, hence, if it appears in the upcoming research works of the future, the sign shall act as a guide for the diagnosis of the ailment long before it exhibits widely in a person.

This study involved a total of 16 subjects who started exhibiting the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, whereas 13 individuals were those who were completely normal but had pre-clinical form of the disease, that is, pathological signs of Alzheimer’s were present in their cerebrospinal fluid. A control group containing 42 healthy subjects without any clinical or pre-clinical disease was also a part of this study.

The research subjects were examined on the basis of their ability to recall how to figure out a virtual maze that was provided to them on a computer, that contained a sequel of hooked hallways with 20 markers and 4 wallpaper patterns. In the pursuit of solving the maze, the participants were tested for two different skills: One of them aimed at assessing how fine to the participants carry out in learning and following an already set pathway, and the second one aimed at examining how they can form and make use of a mentally created map to get out of the maze.

Individuals with pre-clinical forms of Alzheimer’s disease possessed little or no obstacle in recalling and learning the already set route for solving the maze. However, they faced considerable issues in forming a mental map route of the puzzle. They slowly overcame this mental map learning obstacle too and functioned nearly as good as the participants of the control group.

An associate professor of psychological and brain sciences, as well as the study’s senior author, Denise Head said that, “These findings suggest that navigational tasks designed to assess a [mental] mapping strategy could represent a powerful new tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition.”

Mental creation of a map becomes a problem in individuals who contain pre-clinical forms of this cognitive impairment-producing neurological ailment. However, after some rounds of trial and error, they seem to overcome this obstacle too.

Hence, the study has brought to us quite a positive finding that presence of Alzheimer’s disease markers in the cerebrospinal fluid does not make one destined to develop the disease, as the researchers say, “Future research should examine whether cognitive mapping deficits in individuals in preclinical Alzheimer’s are associated with an increased risk of developing symptomatic Alzheimer’s.”

Such people may even not face difficulty in figuring out their way through new neighborhood patterns.

For more information on this study, you can visit the article on internet which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in the month of April.

Alzheimer’s disease is a curse. The loved ones of the affected person seem to be equally devastated as the patient himself. Unfortunately, we have no measures as yet to halt or slow down the progression of the disease, and all that has been investigated and developed is limited to hypothesis and lab tests only. Attempts are being made to detect the pre-clinical forms of this irreversible disease which tends to destroy a person’s cognitive skills and memory, since at this stage, there are several chances to halt the pathological progression of the ailment.

Also Read: A Step Closer to Alzheimer’s Treatment.