Brain Health: Detecting Alzheimer’s Quickly and Easily

As part of our series on better aging, we're taking a look at Neurotrack, a company that's working to find ways to detect Alzheimer's disease quickly and effectively.
Neurologist, hand holding a brain, brain health

Six million. 

That’s how many Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s disease. With the number of older Americans growing so rapidly, the amount of new and existing cases of Alzheimer’s will increase, too. In fact, that number is projected to climb to nearly 13 million by 2050. What’s worse, it’s not just a disease of memory loss; Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer or prostate cancer combined.

On top of that, of the more than 11 million Americans who help care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, many are unpaid. As someone watching her own mother deal with it currently, I can tell you firsthand it’s a cruel disease. This all sounds very depressing, but there’s reason to hope and to believe doctors will be able to catch it quicker. The changes we’re seeing in treating this disease will make a difference in providing help and support sooner. 

As we continue looking into companies working to increase our longevity, we focus this week on Neurotrack, a company that has developed a 3-minute digital test to screen for cognitive impairment. The plan is to make these screenings available during a typical wellness appointment at their regular physician’s office. It’s essential to detect cognitive impairment because it can be an early indicator of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, and being able to screen for impairment and decline during an annual wellness exam could help with early detection and early intervention.

Who or what is Neurotrack?

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Neurotrack is a leader in science-backed cognitive health solutions. It’s based in Redwood City, CA, and its researchers are on a mission to transform the diagnosis and prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Using eye-tracking technology, the company can measure and monitor your cognition. Not just that, it’s created a comprehensive cognitive health program that allows patients to make lifestyle changes to strengthen their cognitive health as they get older. Its work has been recognized by leading organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic and the National Institute on Aging. 

What’s so different about this assessment test?

This will let providers quickly screen for mental decline and impairment that can be an early indicator of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, during an annual wellness exam. It can also make it possible to increase the number of annual assessments that are done and make early intervention possible.

Isn’t this already happening in doctor’s offices?

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Well, there are guidelines in place requiring cognitive assessments as part of annual wellness visits for Medicare beneficiaries, but only about a fourth of those enrolled say they were actually evaluated. This may help change that.

The digital exam Neurotrack developed has been designed to fit within a typical visit or even allow patients/clients to assess their cognitive health on their own and share the results with their doctor. It can detect the issues within three minutes, and it has better accuracy than current methods and does it with reduced bias in testing for people with other languages, backgrounds, and cultures. In addition, it allows for a way to screen without the need for the patient to show symptoms. This is key because sometimes the symptoms don’t show up until 20 years after the brain changes have occurred. 

Neurotrack wants to be able to make this test part of annual physical exams for people starting at 65 years old. 

If there’s no cure, how is this helpful?

The company is currently conducting a clinical study collaborating with researchers at the University of Arkansas. They’re using grant money from the National Institute on Aging to look at the effects of health education and coaching on cognition and cognitive risk factors. So far, results show a significant reduction in symptoms after a year of intervention, including improved thinking and a decrease in depression and anxiety. 

The company was also recently given $10 million in new funding from a variety of sources, including technology, clinical care, biotech, patient advocacy, and caregiving. That money is being used to support and accelerate a push to market to continue the development of a provider-based solution for people dealing with cognitive decline. 

What do doctors think?

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Neurotrack has formed a clinical advisory board of physician leaders from family medicine, geriatrics, and geriatric psychiatry. The board will advise Neurotrack on better ways to meet the needs of patients, along with physicians and health systems caring for the aging population. Physicians who have worked with the system say the solution Neurotrack has created is grounded in proven methodologies that have been scientifically validated. They say the tests do, in fact, detect possible cognitive impairment.

Using the tool within a clinical workflow opens up the possibility for every senior to be screened easily and quickly when an intervention can be most effective. Assessing, preserving, and strengthening memory health is the goal, and it appears the company is well on track to reaching that goal and making it easier for other businesses, researchers, and health groups to manage brain health, which will ultimately reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the future.

Read Next:

How to Improve Memory, Increase Intelligence, and Ensure Brain Health

Does Brain Training Actually Work?

The Effects Of Higher Body Fat On Your Brain


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