How A Simple Alzheimer’s Test Can Determine Your Risk

If you have ever worked a “find the one that’s different” puzzle in a brainteaser book, the latest potential test for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) risk may appeal to you.

Research from the department of neurological surgery at the University of Louisville shows cognitively normal people who have a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease have more difficulty differentiating between dissimilar objects called Greebles.

What are Greebles? Cognitive neuroscientist Isabel Gauthier designed these novel objects to use as stimuli in psychological studies of face and object recognition.

Much like people, Greebles have body shapes and features that, while similar to those of others, make them unique.

University of Louisville School of Medicine

In the study, test subjects viewed sets of four similar images, including human faces, real-world objects, scenes and Greebles.

In each grouping, one image was slightly different.


While all participants had the same level of success identifying dissimilar scenes, objects and faces, those who were genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease failed to identify the correct Greeble 22 percent of the time.


In contrast, the control group only missed 13 percent of the Greebles.

Although this test is not a definitive marker of the disease, it might be a useful tool in continuing diagnostic research.

RELATED: The Internet Can’t Seem To Solve This Puzzle

patient talking to doctor photo
Getty Images | Adam Berry

While there is no cure for AD, early detection has numerous benefits, including the following:

1. Receiving The Best Care

Early detection gives patients time to explore treatment options, research healthcare providers and perhaps participate in clinical research trials, which can result in maintaining independence for a longer period of time.

2. Finding Support For Everyone Involved

Getting involved with support groups and other resources can help people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and their families better prepare for and deal with symptoms before they intensify.

alzheimer photo
Flickr | Michael Panse

3. Planning For The Future

Early detection provides more time for patients to participate in choosing care, living arrangements and financial matters.

elderly husband wife photo
Flickr | bravenewtraveler

4. Possible Prevention

As research continues, preventive measures such as vaccines and disease-modifying drugs may become available. Knowing you are predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease could possibly save your life.

vaccination photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

RELATED: Grandparents Who Babysit Are Less Likely To Develop Dementia And Alzheimer’s

(In case you were wondering, Greeble No. 4 is different in the picture at the top of the page.)

[h/t: Country Living]

RELATED: In this heartwarming video, a mom with Alzheimer’s recognizes her daughter for the first time in a very long time.