With new research proposing that memory loss is not specific to Alzheimer’s disease, authors of a recent study suggest that spatial and temporal orientation are better indicators in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease than memory loss.
The results of the study, published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, tested the memory and spatial and temporal orientation of a large sample of Alzheimer’s patients and healthy controls.
Participants underwent structural imaging and magnetic resonance brain imaging. Researchers compared the orientation and memory scores for participants with Alzheimer’s with the scores of patients with another neurodegenerative condition, behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD).
The researchers found that Alzheimer’s patients had both impaired memory and orientation, whereas bvFTD patients only had impaired memory. Analysis of brain imaging showed that memory and orientation performance were associated with different areas of the brain in Alzheimer’s patients than in bvFTD patients.
The researchers conclude that disorientation affecting the posterior hippocampus is specific to Alzheimer’s disease. They suggest that an understanding of this disorientation will allow professionals to discriminate Alzheimer’s disease from similar conditions more effectively.
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