Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis asked study participants to use patterns and landmarks to make their way through a maze on a computer, the Huffington Post reports. The individuals were divided into three groups: early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, undiagnosed people with early markers for Alzheimer’s (considered “preclinical Alzheimer’s”), and a control group of #clinically normal people. The study showed that individuals with preclinical Alzheimer’s had more difficulty learning the locations of objects.
“These findings suggest that the way finding difficulties experienced by people with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease are in part related to trouble acquiring the environmental information,” said senior author Denise Head, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences.
While Head cautioned that the study has limitations, she explained that navigational tasks that assess cognitive mapping strategy “could represent a powerful tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition.”
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