Tell-Tale Lapses in Attention a Sign of Alzheimer's

With Alzheimer's as a looming public health threat, if not an epidemic, medicine continues to uncover new ways to detect this horrible disease early on. Patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's may have greater problems with breakdowns in their attention span, particularly between competing sources of information, according to new research.

Researchers studied some 100 seniors, divided between healthy patients and those diagnosed with milder cases of dementia, using dichotic listening tests to determine how their brains absorb and hold onto information (a process in which words heard in the left ear are processed in a cross-lateral fashion by the right side of the brain and vice versa).

Typically, words heard in the right ear have the advantage over ones hitting the left ear, as language processing resides in the left side of the brain. Patients were fed two different sets of numbers in both ears and asked to recall them in the order they were presented.

Those demonstrating early signs of dementia relied on information they received from their right ears (what researchers referred to as the "default channel") and remembered it far better than numbers heard in their left ears. In fact, the mild dementia group recalled about 22 percent more information from their right ears, about four times as much as did the healthy control group (6 percent).

Folks, it's important for you to know Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging and there are many safe and simple ways to reduce your chances of succumbing to it.

Science Daily November 12, 2005

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