Development of Novel Measures

  • Face Name Associative Memory Exam (FNAME). This sensitive memory test, developed by Dr. Dorene Rentz with support from a variety of sources including the Core, has been shown to be correlated with amyloid imaging positivity, MRI hippocampal volume and APOE4 carrier status in cognitively normal older adults. This measure is already in active use in the A4 trial and the Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Initiative, and is being explored for use in a wide variety of other studies.
  • Novel battery of olfactory assessments. The new Percept of Odor Episodic Memory Test (POEM) and related olfactory-based assessments are being developed by Dr. Mark Albers. The Core has supported the development of and piloting of this test, which is associated with worsening over time and amyoid imaging positivity. The work has also generated preliminary data for a pending NIH R21 grant. In addition, pilot studies are planned looking at patients with frontotemporal dementia and Parkinson's disease.
  • At-home Neuropsychological Testing on the IPad: Last spring, with additional support from the Geoffrey Beene Foundation and the American Health Assistance Foundation/BrightFocus, we began a study on the use of computerized testing on an iPad in older adults with the long term goal of enabling at home, repeated cognitive testing for screening or longitudinal studies. This study is directed by Dr. Rentz working closely with neuropsychology fellow Dr. Yakeel Quiroz-Gaviria. We presented strong feasibility and reliability data at the Clinical Trials in Alzheimer’s disease (CTAD) conference in November, 2014, and are now conducting more comprehensive testing with alternate forms of the tests that will enable repeated testing over time with minimal learning effects. The last phase of the protocol is to determine if multiple assessments in the home environment are equivalent to or better than one assessment in the clinic. We also plan to begin piloting a Spanish version of the testing soon.
  • Novel visual paired comparison task. Under Dr. Teresa Gomez-Isla’s lead, we began to implement and test subjects a modified version of an eye-tracking paradigm originally developed by colleagues at Emory University that uses the innate preference for novel visual stimuli as a way to test memory, previously shown in rodents and non-human primates to be particularly sensitive to minimal hippocampal damage (Zola, 2000). While our initial trials of this test suggested that novelty preference is decreased in amyloid positive compared to negative individuals, follow up with a broader array of stimuli were unable to replicate this finding.
  • Ecologically valid computerized functional testing. Many studies and clinical settings rely on questionnaires to assess functional status, or use neuropsychological assessments that only partially predict function. Dr. Gad Marshall is developing computerized tests of real-world functional tasks that older individuals face in daily life, for instance, navigating a phone company voicemail system; timing and errors on such systems may provide a sensitive marker of early cognitive losses. These tests have been piloted in our own sample, and Dr. Marshall just received a pilot grant from the MADRC for further development of this test.