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Title: Factors affecting neuropsychological testing in the elderly and the use of a newly developed virtual reality test : implications for the accurate and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease
Author: Walters, Elizabeth Rachel
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2013
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Neuropsychological testing is one method used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders. However, the testing process may be affected by subtle external factors which if not controlled for may have the ability to affect the scores obtained. The primary aim of this thesis was to investigate the effects of some of these external factors, namely caffeine, non-oily fish consumption and time of day. A secondary aim was to evaluate the use of a novel virtual assessment as a possible tool for the early detection of AD. Healthy elderly participants over the age of sixty with no existing cognitive impairment or neurological condition were recruited to take part. For each external factor investigated participants were required to undertake a cognitive assessment. The results demonstrated that subtle external factors present during a typical testing session have the ability to significantly affect the scores obtained. Scores on one part of the virtual test correlated with existing tests used for the early detection of cognitive impairment and were significantly lower in participants classified as mildly impaired. With further modification this test has the potential to be used as an early detection tool. The results have implications for the interpretation of neuropsychological test scores which may be considered when classifying participants, determining treatment interventions, selecting participants for research and making a diagnosis. These findings have important considerations for psychological and cognitive research that investigates human brain function.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neuropsychology, Alzheimer’s disease, Cognition, Aging, Virtual reality, Testing, Virtual assessment