Saturday, July 26, 2008

Current Event: International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) 2008, Chicago IL

The Alzheimer's Association ICAD 2008 conference begins today and continues through the 31st of July. The conference takes place in Chicago at McCormick Place.

Details available at the conference website: ICAD website.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Verbal Fluency and MCI

Nutter-Upham KE, Saykin AJ, Rabin LA, Roth RM, Wishart HA, Pare N, Flashman LA. Verbal fluency performance in amnestic MCI and older adults with cognitive complaints. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 2008 May; 23(3): 229-241.

Neuropsychology Program, Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School/DHMC, Lebanon, NH, USA.

Verbal fluency tests are employed regularly during neuropsychological assessments of older adults, and deficits are a common finding in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Little extant research, however, has investigated verbal fluency ability and subtypes in preclinical stages of neurodegenerative disease. We examined verbal fluency performance in 107 older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI, n=37), cognitive complaints (CC, n=37) despite intact neuropsychological functioning, and demographically matched healthy controls (HC, n=33). Participants completed fluency tasks with letter, semantic category, and semantic switching constraints. Both phonemic and semantic fluency were statistically (but not clinically) reduced in amnestic MCI relative to cognitively intact older adults, indicating subtle changes in the quality of the semantic store and retrieval slowing. Investigation of the underlying constructs of verbal fluency yielded two factors: Switching (including switching and shifting tasks) and Production (including letter, category, and action naming tasks), and both factors discriminated MCI from HC albeit to different degrees. Correlational findings further suggested that all fluency tasks involved executive control to some degree, while those with an added executive component (i.e., switching and shifting) were less dependent on semantic knowledge. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of including multiple verbal fluency tests in assessment batteries targeting preclinical dementia populations and suggest that individual fluency tasks may tap specific cognitive processes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New Online Dementia Resources from UCSF

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Memory and Aging Center has recently revised their website and has launched a YouTube channel dedicated to educating patients, caregivers, and health professionals about neurodegenerative diseases and the dementias. The Center has also launched a Facebook webpage.

The website can be examined at UCSF website.

The YouTube channel - the first one I've heard of dedicated to these topics - can be found at YouTube channel link.

As noted by a UCSF contact:

"Through the YouTube channel, we also hope to support the caregiver and the caregiver’s loved ones to help them cope with these illnesses.

"The channel features UCSF’s renowned clinical-researchers discussing disease characteristics – which are often subtle and not well known, even among members of the medical community. Personal stories of patients and family members are also featured, together with practical advice and coping strategies from healthcare professionals."

The “Defeat Dementia” Facebook group to help support patients, their families, friends, caregivers and others can be found at: link.