Toronto: Women who find it difficult to think and move at the same time, an ability required to perform everyday tasks such as driving a car are at a higher risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease, suggests a new study.
The researchers at York University in Canada found a link between performance in such tasks and a communication problem between different brain regions that promote simultaneous thinking and moving.
The study, focused on women, was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
"We observed a relationship between the levels of deterioration in the brain wiring and their performance on our task that required simultaneous thinking and moving; what we see here is a result of communication failure," said professor Lauren Sergio.
The findings also suggest that their computerised, easily-administered task that the study participants performed, can be used to test those at risk for Alzheimer's disease to flag early warning signs, Sergio said.
"The test is a clinically feasible substitute to the more involved braining imaging tasks that people don't or can't have done routinely," Sergio added.
Typically, Alzheimer's disease is associated with memory loss, perception and other aspects of cognition, while debility in complex movements is observed at a much later stage.
The study was conducted on 30 female participants of whom 10 were in their mid-20s. The rest were in their 50s or older, with half of them at high risk for Alzheimer's disease.
"We scanned the brains of the participants, aiming to see if the impaired cognitive-motor performance in the high risk group was related to brain alterations over and above standard ageing changes," lead researcher Kara Hawkins said.
The research suggests that a video game-like tool developed from the touchscreen thinking and moving task used in the current study may be the next step in helping to improve communication between brain regions.