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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cognitive psychology: Simple test for diagnosing mild dementia

In "Three Little Words Diagnose Mild Dementia", Sylvia Booth Hubbard (NewsMax, November 21, 2008) explains:
The three little words are penny, apple, and table. A tester recites the three words and then has the patient recall them. Patients were also given a piece of paper with a blank circle and asked to draw a clock that read ten minutes after eleven. The questionnaire was filled out by family members. They rated the patients’ performance on daily activities in four categories ranging from “normal” to “dependent.”
Identifying old-age dementia when it first begins is critical because, at that point, the patient and family and friends may be readily motivated to use simple exercises slow down the problem.
According to Dr. Lah, screening for mild cognitive impairment is difficult and requires up to an hour of neuropsychological testing to achieve an accuracy rate of 80 percent. The new, three-minute test was 74 percent accurate in classifying people. “While this may not seem over impressive, it is quite remarkable for a three-minute test,” Lah said, adding that the test was “also extremely inexpensive, easy to administer and score, and requires no special training.”

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