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NeuroAge - NeuroCognitive Function Test

The brain ages. Neuroscientists who study the aging brain agree that your brain ages much like your arteries and lungs. Just as there are tests to detect changes in arterial stiffness and lung elasticity that occur decades before the onset of significant disease, there are tests of cognitive function
sensitive to the gradual decline preceding clinically obvious neurologic impairment. This gradual decline is part of normal brain aging and can be experienced as a decreased ability to play video games and "brain fog," that feeling that you just are not thinking up to par.

Brain aging is a slow process. As early as your midtwenties, certain aspects of your cognitive function begin to decline in a linear fashion. You don't notice the decline unless you tax the system, e.g., play a video game, do long division in your head, or take this test. If that decline is steeper than the average person, you are more likely to have significant neurologic disease decades later than someone whose decline is average, and now is the time to act.

Screen for early cognitive impairment. The CNS Vital Signs battery of neuropsychological tests assesses the main areas of cognitive function, by taxing them more than your daily activities (Most people find the 20-minute battery to
be quite challenging). It is used to screen for significant neurologic impairment from dementia, ADHD, or medications and is a screening test that everyone should take periodically. Just as we saw with spirometry, however, in order to know if there is a significant impairment, the results of the test must be age-adjusted. While most domains of cognitive function are affected by normal brain aging, two areas are particularly sensitive to age and start showing changes in early adulthood.

The most sensitive measures of normal brain aging are:
» Reaction time. The Stroop Test measures how quickly and accurately you can apply a rule to a stimulus and then inhibit the application of that rule (press the space bar when the word spells the color of its font, then reverse the
» Processing speed. The Symbol Digit Coding test measures how many paired sets of symbols and digits you can process on a computer screen with your eyes and then press the corresponding key on the keyboard. This test involved the grid with corresponding symbols and numbers.

The NeuroAge is a weighted composite of the scores on these two tests.

Why is the NeuroAge important?
» A NeuroAge significantly higher than your age may mean that your brain is aging more rapidly than it should and could be indicative of an adverse affect of a medication you are taking or early brain disease. This can occur even when your memory is unaffected.
» Mild concussions can transiently raise your NeuroAge, as can moderate to severe depression.


What factors affect the NeuroAge?
Sleep deprivation and alcohol intoxication can hurt your performance, and caffeine can improve your performance. Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that the decrease in performance on tests like these is correlated with the loss of
dopamine activity in the frontal lobes of the brain.


Sample Report (PDF)




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