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Memory Tests: What’s Real And What’s Phony Baloney

Written by Wellness Club on July 16, 2014 – 3:08 pm -

By Nurse Mark

 

There is a lot of junk floating around the internet…

And sooner or later, if it is in any way related to health, someone forwards it to us with the question “What do you think of this? Is it of any value? Is it something that you are aware of?”

And so it is with the so-called “Alzheimer’s Eye Test” that makes the rounds of the internet from time to time.

The basic premise of the “test” is that one reads a sentence and then quickly counts the number of letters “F” contained in that sentence.

Here is the sentence: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.

The email goes on to claim that it is normal to identify 3 of the letters “F”, and that to identify 4 is rare and to identify all 6 is “genius.”

Hmmm…

Modesty prevents me from chuckling at this aloud, since I promptly identified all 6 when I first saw this, years ago. Oops, was that immodest of me? Sorry…

Now, this is a fun little brain teaser sort of thing, but what it has to do with Alzheimer’s I really don’t understand – and I certainly can’t imagine what it has to do with memory.

The rationale given for the fact that many people don’t immediately see 3 of the letters “F” is that “The brain cannot process the word ‘of’.”

But if that is true, why do we use the word so much in our speech and our written communications? I’ll bet my second paragraph in this article would look awfully silly if I hadn’t used the word ‘of’ several times…

A more likely explanation is that many people mispronounce the word of ‘of’ slightly, as ‘uv’ and thus our brains are not as likely to “hear” the ‘F’ in the word ‘of’.

So, while this is a fun little game for young and old alike, it is hardly a diagnostic tool for determining either memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease.

Afraid of losing your marbles?

 

Most of us are – probably even all of us (at least all of us that haven’t already lost our marbles…) and that is why this kind of internet junk, a brain teaser made out to be some sort of simple, objective “test” is so popular.

But it’s not objective, and it’s not a test, and it’s not diagnostic.

Here is something that is objective and diagnostic:

The Ohio State University has developed what they call their S.A.G.E. Test – the The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam.

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments. It evaluates your thinking abilities and helps physicians to know how well your brain is working.

 

While this is primarily intended for doctors and other medical health professionals to administer to their patients, it can also be downloaded and used by laypersons. By clicking on the “for physicians” link on the webpage you can access the scoring and interpretation instructions for the test. But beware – you can seriously invalidate the results of your test by reading through the scoring and interpretation instructions before doing the test – so don’t do it! Better yet, have someone else download the test and score it for you – just as if you were going to your doctor for this test.

There are 4 versions of the test – and it does not matter which version you take. There are 4 versions so that it can be repeated as needed in order to assess progress or change.

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.

Mark Twain

So what can you do?

 

A personal story: I recently wrote about the benefits of citicoline for brain health: The Amazing Brain Nutrient You Don’t Know About.

My Dad is 89 years young and has complained of C.R.S. (Can’t Remember Stuff) for many years now.

He read that article and asked why he wasn’t taking citicoline. I sent him a couple of bottles with instructions to take a higher amount for the first bottle and then to drop back to a maintenance dosage after that.

Dad recently wrote to say that he had been taking the citicoline as directed:

Just a few lines to let you know (as requested) the results from the twice daily dosage of Cognizin. I must confess that the only sign so far of any change in my long-standing inability to remember much of anything is an apparent increase in the speed with which I finish the newspaper’s daily crossword puzzle which accompanies my daily breakfast. I guess this must be a positive sign that the stuff is working,

Yes, finishing the daily crossword more rapidly is a very definite and objective sign that there is memory improvement – since crossword puzzles are all about remembering words and associating them with clues!

Clinical and laboratory research show citicoline supports memory function and healthy cognition and there is clinical evidence suggesting that citicoline can improve memory problems associated with aging. (1, 2)

Further, according to pharmacology researchers:

The other major indication of citicoline is for treatment of senile cognitive impairment, either secondary to degenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer disease) or to chronic cerebral vascular disease. In patients with chronic cerebral ischemia, citicoline improves scores in cognitive rating scales, while in patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer type it stops the course of disease, and neuroendocrine, neuroimmunomodulatory, and neurophysiological benefits have been reported. (3)

 

 

References:

1.) Spiers PA et al. Citicoline improves verbal memory in aging. Arch Neurol. 996;53:441-48.

2.) Alvarez XA et al. Citicoline improves memory performance in elderly subjects. Meth Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1997;19(3):201-10.

3.) Secades JJ1, Lorenzo JL.. Citicoline: pharmacological and clinical review, 2006 update. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Sep;28 Suppl B:1-56. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17171187

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