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Eye Movement Could Predict Alzheimer’s Disease

Update Date: Mar 27, 2014 02:55 PM EDT

According to a new study, researchers have identified another potential indicator of Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common type of dementia. After observing patients with probable Alzheimer's, the researchers concluded that examining the patients' eye movements while they read could be an early predictor of the mental illness.

In this study, the research team recruited 18 patients who had a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's. The participants were asked to read sentences written in Spanish that contained many different grammatical structures. While reading, the researchers recorded their eye movements. The study was conducted at the Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS) Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

Based on these analyses, the team discovered that the patients had less focused visual exploration whenthey read. Their eye movements were slower during reading and they had longer fixations while processing new data when compared to the control group. The researchers then asked the participants to reread the sentences. They theorized that the patients would be able to predict the context of the sentence and infer the meaning better the second time around. However, the participants exhibited similar eye movements.

The researchers concluded that people with Alzheimer's might have greater difficulty assessing stored information, which suggests that their working and retrieval memory functions might be impaired. The team believes that using in-depth eye analyses could help diagnosed patients with Alzheimer's earlier.

The study, "Registering eye movements during reading in Alzheimer's disease: Difficulties in predicting upcoming words," was published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

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