Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

A home screening test for age-related cognitive decline has been discovered, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

Researchers from Switzerland and the UK developed a test which asks people to detect sounds and flashes on their laptop or phone. A total of 123 participants were observed to see whether they were faster at detecting flashes or sound and the extent to which they benefited from detecting an auditory-visual event versus either flashes or sounds.

Researchers found that the simple, cost-effective test could be used to help improve early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, which can develop into Alzheimer’s disease in 30% to 50% of people.

“We are particularly excited about this work because it shows how very simple tests can help clinical practice by reaching a wider population, at a lower cost,” said Micah Murray, the lead researcher and professor of Radiology and Clinical Neurosciences at the University Hospital Centre and University of Lausanne in Switzerland. “We are happy that our findings clarify the link between our vision and hearing and their role in supporting memory (dys-)function; it becomes increasingly clear that how preserved our cognitive skills are as we age depends on how intact our senses are,”

Although existing diagnosis tests can be costly and involve lengthy neuropsychological assessments, Trudi Edginton Ph.D., a cognitive neuroscientist and clinical psychologist at City, University of London said, “The test we introduced should not yet be considered as a substitute or replacement for tests currently used in clinical practice.” But the team is exploring ways to validate the screening tool “to inform early diagnosis and potential treatment options,” she added.