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Less Home Computer Use May Warn of Alzheimer’s

Less Home Computer Use May Warn of Alzheimer’s

A provocative new study suggests a method to detect early onset of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s may be to simply observe the time a senior spends on the computer. If computer habits become infrequent, this may suggest impending cognitive issues.

In the study, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) discovered a significant correlation between infrequent daily computer use and brain imaging signs commonly seen in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients.

Researchers used MRI scans to measure the volume of the hippocampus — a brain region integral to memory function — in adults aged 65 years and older who were cognitively intact and dementia-free.

Prior studies have determined that diminished hippocampal volume is a well-known sign, or biomarker, of Alzheimer’s disease and the eventual development of dementia.

In the study, found online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that an additional hour of computer use a day was associated with a .025 percent larger hippocampal volume.

Lisa Silbert, M.D., the study leader, explains that a smaller hippocampal volume is an indicator of increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

She and her team will continue to follow these participants to see if their smaller hippocampal volume and decreased computer use predict future cognitive decline.

Silbert and colleagues hypothesize that the reason patients with smaller hippocampal volumes may spend less time using their home computer is because it requires the use of multiple cognitive domains; that is, executive function, attention, and memory.

The researchers have been following a group of volunteers in Portland for nine years through a suite of embedded technology in their homes.

These tools allow the researchers to assess their mobility, sleep, socialization, computer use, and medication intake. The purpose of this monitoring is to identify meaningful changes in everyday life that don’t involve the participants taking tests or going to doctor appointments.

Source: IOS Press

Less Home Computer Use May Warn of Alzheimer’s

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Less Home Computer Use May Warn of Alzheimer’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 24 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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