New results on the problem with Alzheimer's screening tests. Some relevance to us?

A new study has just shown that women with early-stage Alzheimer's perform better than men on verbal memory tests, despite having the same level of structural damage. They conclude that the threshold for diagnosing Alzheimer's should be lower in women.

Obviously we don't have Alzheimer's, but I still find this study relevant to us. It's an admission that high verbal skills can throw cognitive screening tests off - and we know this pretty well. I don't think changing the thresholds for women would be a good solution for us. They need to use a full battery of screening tests, and not be tempted to ignore low performance because of a good verbal response.

But it's a step in the right direction.

4 Replies

  • Interesting, and it throws up the before/after issue again, nobody really has a baseline measurement of functionality, to determine the extent of any impairment. It would be stereotypical and judgemental to say that 'women' process differently to 'men', we can't throw out the left-brain/right-brain 'explanation'. I know for a fact that I've always had processing skills that fall into the assumed-male sector, but with linguistic capabilities in the assumed-female sector.

    It's a combination of factors that determine how well any of us do with brain injuries, or deterioration, some of it will be pre-learned skills, some of it the organic/biological process of deterioration or repair. I'm thinking back to your post on higher intelligence prior to neurological issues, but I'm also reflecting on how 'women' tend to work-around issues. (There's that awful line, of "When a man has a cold, he gets the 'flu, when a woman has the 'flu, she gets on with it.", I'm not making this into a Feminist issue, I run too androgen-high to bang the 'Female emancipation' drum.)

    I agree that a broader spectrum of capabilities-testing is probably needed, and I also think that the longer-term impacts of 'functional' processing need to be factored in. There's a good chance I'd be able to recall the '15 words' in the test mentioned in the article, I can recite whole chunks of Shakespeare from school, and the whole of 'Jabberwocky', which is easier said than done, it's a chain of nonsense-words, most-memory can only recall things that make sense. (Which makes no sense.) I currently have a good long-term, and short-term memory for words, so that test would likely deem me functional to a greater degree than most. That test, however, wouldn't address the 'other' types of dysfunction I have. (MENSA-level IQ, and I frequently can't figure out how to untangle the straps on my vest, or I'll 'freeze' out and about, and have to walk miles out of my way, because the light is coming through a fence 'wrong'.)

  • It's about baselines isn't it, Though my memory is worse than it had been it was fairly abysmal pre part of my dyslexia so I'd of failed it pre and I'd fail it now.

    Though since I have had various tests regarding dyslexia I do a have a individual baseline. But most wouldn't.

  • Yeah. I think another problem is that our society communicates and expresses itself via language, so we equate "more articulate" with "more intelligent". It's easy to use words to cover up a lack of understanding. (Exhibit A: the US presidential debates). But that rebounds on us when people assume we're more competent than we are. That's why the tests need to separate the different intelligences, and look for problems in each of them.

    I was "gifted and talented" at school, so I had a few tests with educational psychologists. I'm trying to get hold of the results and use them as a baseline. My guess is they'll have lost them, since it was twenty years ago. *sigh*.

  • night are you admiting women talk too much? in all seriousness though, my friend took the test and failed miserably.