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Test detects cognitive disorders in minutes

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Specialists from the National University of Colombia have created a test that, based on only three questions, analyzes cognitive functions in no more than three minutes.

Researcher Kelly Patricia Estrada said that the test makes early and accurate detection possible, allowing doctors to take measures to delay problems down the road.

The test was applied to 339 participants and included a complete evaluation in neurology, neuropsychology and genetics.

The test’s diagnostic performance was accurate more than 86 percent of the time, said Estrada.

“People were diagnosed with mild cognitive disorder, major and without it, in such a way that we could contrast the different results of the test across the spectrum of the condition,” said the specialist.

The CATest (cognitive assessment test) is suggested yearly for people over 50.

The specialist explained that the first question of this tool, whose application only requires paper and pencil, refers to a test in which the person must learn and remember five words.

He described that the second one is related to phonological verbal fluency, from which the person must mention all the words that begin with a letter selected at random and remember them at that moment.

Finally, he argued that the person performing the test will have to draw a clock with all its parts and that it should mark a specific time by orienting the hands in a precise manner.

The expert added that after completing the test, an evaluation is made according to previously established parameters and in which aspects related to the level of schooling and age are considered, in order to determine if there is a cognitive disorder of some kind.

The researcher specified that if the person has a score between 18 and 21 points it can be considered normal; if he is between 15 and 17 he has a mild cognitive disorder, and if his score is less than or equal to 14 points, the disorder is greater.

He affirmed that the test contemplates that once the affected domain is determined, the persons identified with the disorder can access an improvement plan based on a process of identification and intervention of the modifiable risk factors.

He said that although people under 50 could be at risk of developing this disease at an early age, it is estimated that the most frequent age is from 65 years.

He revealed that although factors associated with a genetic predisposition could affect its appearance, there are other characteristics or modifiable risk factors that would explain up to 70 percent of reported cases.

Estrada pointed out that some triggers associated with this disorder are: not exercising frequently, having poor eating habits, not sleeping well, bearing high stress loads, and even lacking stable social relationships and consuming tobacco or alcohol.

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