I can't tell you how often my patients complain about memory issues. You know the drill. "I just came in here for something, now what was it?" "Honey, do you know where I put my keys?" Probably all of us have been there from time to time simply because we're trying to do too many things at the same time and not paying attention to what we are doing. But what if there's more to it than that? What if we are just showing early signs of senility? And finally, what if there was a simple, quick, and easy way to assess your mental function right now, right in your home, for free?
Cognitive function scientists have known for years that there's a need for a rapid and reliable screening tool for cognitive assessment in middle-aged and older adults. And the obvious place to have the test is on the Internet. Now they have produced one. They developed a computer-driven cognitive testing program that measures memory and attention processes known to deteriorate with aging.
To test the accuracy of the program, they enrolled 288 healthy men and women between the ages of 50-79. All of the participants scored in the normal range on a standardized measure of general cognitive ability. Each one then took the newly developed 20-minute online test on their home computers. And then each of them repeated the test a week later. Here's what they found.
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As expected the scores decreased as the age of the person taking the test increased. Also, the scores from the first test matched up well with the scores of the second test. This indicated that the testing process is reliable and consistent. The researchers concluded that, "These results indicate the tool may be useful for identifying middle-aged and older adults with lower than expected scores who may benefit from clinical evaluation of their cognition by a health care professional." So if you still can't find your keys and you're starting to wonder if things are getting serious, why not go ahead and take the test? If you score well, you can stop worrying and go look for your keys again. If you score poorly, it's time to have a talk with your doctor. Here's how you can access the test. It's amazingly easy!
On your computer go to www.cogniciti.com. The program will ask you to fill out some basic information that the scientists are using to further refine the test. And then you can take the test. When you do, just make sure that you are well rested, not upset over anything, and not in a place where you will be distracted. The test takes about 20 minutes. At the end of the test, you will be given a score. Mine was 83%. That means that compared to other people my age, I scored better than 82% of them and worse than 16%. I plan on doing it again next week. Maybe I'll get smarter by then? I can think of two really great ways we can all use this test.
One, the researchers conclude that if you score in the low 7% range, you need to be checked for a possible cognitive disorder. The other use is for all of the brain enhancement products out there. Advanced Bionutritionals makes one I helped design called Advanced Memory Formula. I think it's a great combination of nutrients that have been shown to help most people. But everybody is different, so how do you know if they are really doing something for you? Here's a way to find out.
Do the test once and then again a week later. Then take the product you want to test for two months and repeat the two tests. If your score is not noticeably better, that product is not working for you. If it is, then maybe you better stay with it.
To your health, naturally,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Troyer AK, Rowe G, et al. Development and evaluation of a self-administered on-line test of memory and attention for middle-aged and older adults. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 Dec 10;6:335.