Putting a Name to the Face

David Miller
Beyond The HeadlineAugust 13, 2013

Can doctors predict the onset of dementia by showing patients pictures of celebrities?

A group of 60 volunteers took part in a Northwestern University study to find out what can be learned about dementia by testing peoples visual memory.

Half of the participants had dementia and half didn't. They were shown pictures of 20 famous people and asked 2 questions after each one: Can you name them? And why are they famous?

The ability to recognize famous faces, and then place that face in the crowd, was effective in the study. Based on the answers, researchers were able to reliably separate those with dementia from those without.

Dementia is being fought on many fronts, including drug treatment and research into delaying the decline in mental ability, but the goal of this study is early detection. how do you detect dementia as soon as possible and give doctors a head start with treatment?

Dementia is a slow decline in overall mental ability and memory, most commonly showing up as Alzheimer’s disease, which is steadily growing. By 2025, it’s estimated more than 7 million will have it. By 2050, almost 14 million.