Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose before symptoms start showing up, because there is no single test that can definitively determine whether a person has the degenerative brain disease.
Could a scoop of peanut butter and a ruler become that elusive test?
That’s what researchers at the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste are hoping. They found patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease had more difficulty smelling peanut butter held at short distances from their nose than people without the disease. Courtesy of CBSNews.com For rest of the article click here.
This test is in it’s infancy and had a small sample of patients that were used. But even with that, with no cure in sight and only medications to hopefully slow down the effects of dementia/Alzheimer’s it is something to consider. My statistics and research method professor would raise one eyebrow at me and say that a much larger sample size would be needed and I hope they do more research on this finding. I imagine that providing the patient didn’t already have a diminished since of smell or physical problems with their sense of smell this could be interesting.
After reading this I immediately wanted to go find a jar of peanut butter and do a bit of a lay test to see how well I could smell the peanut butter and from how far away. There wasn’t any in the house so I had to limit my “test” to smelling bacon cooking in the kitchen from the second floor of the house 😉
The second test (again another small sample size) consisted of “testing 30 people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a rare kind of early-onset dementia that occurs when parts of the brain degenerate to cause problems in speech and language. The researchers also looked at 27 people without dementia that acted as controls. People with this type of dementia consistently forget names of famous people they once knew — it’s more than forgetting a name or two of a famous person.” Read the rest of this article here.
Again there goes the voice of my stats and research methods professor about the small sample size. I also think you might want to take into account that some people just may not know or ever knew who some of those famous people in the test were. We are talking about a cultural bias possibly here but I digress. We’ve all known someone who just cannot remember names of people to save their lives but are otherwise perfectly on the ball. And we’ve all had the “tip of the tongue” syndrome where we just can’t recall the name of a person, movie, song, etc. for anything until later on in the day in the middle of our soup and we have our eureka moment and remember what we couldn’t earlier.
But as Catherine Roe, an instructor in neurology at the Washington University school of medicine in St. Louis, Missouri said “To help us know how to use this test as a screening tool,” Roe said, “more research needs to be done to figure out whether this test distinguishes all people with dementia from people without dementia or whether it distinguishes only people with one particular type of early-onset dementia from people without dementia.” Quote courtesy of CBSNews.com.
To all of this I say keep plugging away researchers! Keep plugging away!