New computer tool being used to detect signs of dementia

Aug 14, 2015

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease and that number is expected to keep growing as the population ages. But now, primary care doctors may soon be able to diagnose dementia earlier.  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a first-of-its-kind computer based tool to help detect early signs of dementia. Dr. Charles Duffy, a University of Rochester neuroscientist, developed Cognivue. Duffy says his goal is to make cognitive care affordable and accessible to all Americans.

Cognivue uses a specialized computer system to test brain function.

"Cognitive function is a vital sign, just like your blood pressure and heart rate. You want to know about how your brain is doing and you want to be able to discuss that with your doctor in the context of individual information," Duffy told WBFO.

Duffy says assessment can be done in a doctor's office by a nurse practioner or other mid-level provider. He says it's simple and takes about ten minutes.    

"The patient sits down in front of a somewhat specialized computer screen and responds to stimuli that are presented on that screen using a somewhat specialized response system that is very readily accommodated by the patient," Duffy said.

Duffy says cognitive decline is a primary concern of 70 million older Americans and early detection will allow earlier treatment.