Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Famous Face Test May Spot Early Dementia

Researchers say inability to name icons like Einstein or Elvis might signal primary progressive aphasia

continued...

Whereas 93 percent of the healthy group was able to successfully put a name to a famous face, the same was true of just 46 percent of the primary progressive aphasia patients.

And although 97 percent of the healthy group was able to recognize or describe the icons on view, the same was true of just 79 percent of the dementia group.

What's more, brain scan analyses revealed that those who had difficulty with name recall were more likely to have experienced brain-tissue loss in the left temporal lobe region of their brains, while those with difficulties in face recognition had suffered brain loss on both sides of the same region.

"We hope," Gefen said, "that this tool can be incorporated into a battery of tests to be used for younger patients who specifically complain of difficulties naming a person's face."

Catherine Roe, an instructor in neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, took a cautious view of the findings.

"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."

Cheryl Grady, a senior scientist with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Center in Toronto, seconded the need for follow-up work. But she nonetheless described the work as "intriguing" and praised "the updating of such a test for middle-aged adults."

"[But] I would say that a lot more studies need to use this test before we will know how sensitive it is or whether it is more sensitive to early disease than other fairly sensitive tests," Grady said.

In research, the more true positive results a test produces, the more "sensitive" the test is considered.

1|2

Today on WebMD

alzheimer's disease warning signs
ARTICLE
Alzheimers Overview
SLIDESHOW
 
Best Memory Boosting Games
ARTICLE
mri scan of human brain
QUIZ
 
senior man
ARTICLE
daughter and father
ARTICLE
 
Making Diagnosis
Article
Colored mri of brain
ARTICLE
 
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
VIDEO
senior woman with lost expression
ARTICLE
 
Woman comforting ailing mother
ARTICLE
Alzheimers Dementia
ARTICLE