Archive for April, 2014

I was giving a talk last week and asked the question of whether Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed by means of an alpha-beta PET scan.  This refers to the use of a brain scan with amyloid markers in the detection of early Alzheimer’s disease before clinical symptoms appear.  A review by Steven Peterson (Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, 2014, 174, 133-134) concludes that it cannot.   I have already had a couple of clients who presented to me after they had obtained a PET scan with an amyloid marker and told, despite the fact that they had no symptoms or neuropsychological assessment, that they had early Alzheimer’s disease.  Of course, this was very alarming and they sought assessment and council.  After careful testing, these two clients had superb short-term memory, the loss of which is the hallmark and […]


Although the clinically significant phase of Alzheimer’s disease is characterized as a disorder of memory, it is so much more.  There are a number of cognitive skills that become progressively compromised as it progresses.  For example, in addition to loss of memory there is a decline in attention, concentration, orientation, judgment, reasoning, visuospatial ability, executive function, and language.  The language changes present a real challenge for caregiving as we function in the world by language abilities that we take for granted.  In the mild stages (Late Confusional to Early Dementia) there are often deficits in language such as anomia (cannot name common objects) and circumlocutions (provide functions of objects rather than names) in addition to the forgetfulness.  For example, a person may look at a clock and say it’s for telling time or point to the lights rather than saying […]

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