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New research focuses on cognitive fluctuations in dementia

01/18/2010

What do cognitive fluctuations mean? Changes in attention, cognition, and arousal are seen in DLB, but a new study also shows cognitive fluctuations occur in people diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

Cognitive fluctuations such as daytime sleepiness, staring spells, decreased awareness of surroundings, and incoherent or illogical thoughts are a key feature of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, a new study by James E. Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine and member of the LBDA Scientific Advisory Council, shows that cognitive fluctuations also are present in people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Fluctuations occur much more frequently in DLB but until recently what role they may play in other dementias was unknown. While this finding does not help physicians to diagnose a person as having DLB versus AD, it raises interesting questions about what cognitive fluctuations mean in dementia.

Will people with mild AD who also have cognitive fluctuations go on to develop DLB in the future? Are the cognitive fluctuations seen in DLB and AD caused by the same thing? Can they be treated in the same way? To help answer these questions, Dr. Galvin and his colleagues will continue to observe the study participants over time. They also plan to investigate the biological basis of cognitive fluctuations to understand their clinical meaning.

To read more about this study click here.