Bad Sense of Direction and Alzheimer’s: Potential Connection

November 17, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Uptown HC

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans have the disorder. It is also the sixth-leading cause of death. With the number of people with Alzheimer’s expected to rise in the coming decades, it’s important to identify potential symptoms in advance. This way we can try to slow down the progression of it, enabling people to live better lives. One potential marker, according to a recent study, is a bad sense of direction.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published the study, which analyzed the navigational skills of 71 people. Participants had pre-clinical Alzheimer’s symptoms or early-stage Alzheimer’s. They were to complete a virtual maze trial based on memory. They had 20 minutes to review the map for the maze before having to complete the task. The results showed that the groups whose Alzheimer’s was worse had increased difficulty navigating the maze.

The findings are in tune with previous studies showing that people with the disorder have navigation issues early on. The hippocampus, which is the area of the brain first affected by Alzheimer’s, is partly responsible for navigation. This study adds more evidence that changes in navigational ability are a potential early sign of Alzheimer’s.

Source:

Allison, Samantha L., Anne M. Fagan, John C. Morris, and Denise Head. "Spatial Navigation in Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease." Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Vol 52. Issue 1. Pp. 77-90

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