Alzheimer's disease is associated with loss of memory, perception and other aspects of cognition; while debility in complex movements is observed at a much later stage. Researchers at York University in Canada found a link between performance in such tasks and a communication problem between different brain regions that promote simultaneous thinking and moving. They revealed that women who find it difficult to think and move at the same time, an ability required to perform everyday tasks such as driving a car, are at a higher risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease.
The study group comprised of 30 female participants of whom 10 were in their mid-20s, while the rest were in their 50s or older, with half of them at high risk for Alzheimer's disease. Kara Hawkins, lead researcher of the study, said, "We scanned the brains of the participants, aiming to see if the impaired cognitive-motor performance in the high risk group was related to brain alterations over and above standard aging changes."
Professor Lauren Sergio said, "We observed a relationship between the levels of deterioration in the brain wiring and their performance on our task that required simultaneous thinking and moving; what we see here is a result of communication failure. The findings also suggest that our computerized, easily-administered task that the study participants performed, can be used to test those at risk for Alzheimer's disease to flag early warning signs. The test is a clinically feasible substitute to the more involved braining imaging tasks that people don't or can't have done routinely."
The research also suggests that a video game-like tool developed from the touchscreen thinking and moving task used in the current study may be the next step in helping to improve communication between brain regions.
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease