The Primacy of Primacy

We have just published an article in the Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology that continues in the vein of previous work (see also here) that focused on the relationship between serial position effects and cognitive decline. Like I discussed here, for example. The first author is my brilliant PhD student, Deborah Talamonti.

What we showed in this paper is that remembering the first four words of a list, after a delay of about 15 minutes, is a protective factor against developing mild cognitive impairment, or, in other words, it is a good sign that cognitive decline may not be happening after all.

Picture unrelated (my mother’s flowers)


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A memory test to measure dementia biomarkers

We have just published a new paper on the recency ratio on the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. An abstract can be found here.

A key point we are making with this paper is that we need a range of methods to identify people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these methods, such as neuroimaging, may be more sensitive (although that is up for debate), but are also more expensive and cannot be practically applied to all situations. Given that dementia is spreading worldwide, with projected incidence ballooning in developing countries, cheaper screening tools are also needed. We think our method provides one of these tools.


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The Conversation: Alzheimer’s disease – don’t give up on plaque-busting drugs just yet

I wrote a piece for The Conversation. It is here. And it is based on this article we just published.EVENT-The-Conversation-logo-1-642x315.png

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How to tell Alzheimer’s disease from other types of dementia?

We just published a little note in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease, free to view in this link. For the analysis, we used the recency-based approach, discussed here, and here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Beginning and End: Prediction of Cognitive Decline with Memory Tests

I wrote this blurb for fun to “celebrate” our latest accepted article. It includes an interview to myself 🙂

Failure to remember words at the beginning and at the end of a list may signal risk of future cognitive decline and dementia, researchers have found.

In a paper to appear in International Psychogeriatrics, a team of dementia researchers, including from Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison, report that when adults over the age of fifty remember items learned towards the end of a list well, only to forget them after a break, presented a high risk up to 12 years later of mild cognitive impairment, a condition thought to pre-date Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also observed that failing to remember words presented at the beginning of the list, 15-20 minutes after learning them, led to a similar prediction.

“These findings”, says Dr Davide Bruno from John Moores University, the lead author on the paper, “confirm the importance of using accurate measures of memory ability to screen early on individuals who may be at risk of dementia, particularly for Alzheimer’s disease. The advantage of memory screening”, Dr Bruno adds, “is that it can be done relatively cheaply, but they can still be accurate enough to tell us what may be happening a few years down the line”.

Photo unrelated (by wife).


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Does the way you use your computer predict whether you will have dementia?

Look at that editorialized title!

I have recently co-authored a paper on this very topic, where we looked at types of computer use that are most likely to be associated with cognitive decline and dementia.

Here is a link to it.

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Heading for Trouble

Our editorial (previously teased) on CTE risks associated with playing football (soccer) is now out on the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It is open access and here.

In other news, I was recently at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, where I presented a poster on memory loss in late-life depression. The most exciting finding, from my memory-obsessed perspective, is that the recency ratio (also here) does a great job of picking up subtle changes in biomarkers levels in individuals who show no cognitive impairment whatsoever, despite being depressed.

Poster and some more fluff AAIC 17 handout.

Posted in Aging, Brain Damage, Cognition, Dementia, Depression, Football, Memory, Psychology, Soccer | Tagged , , , , , , ,