Considerable progress is being made in the ability to identify individuals who will develop Alzheimer’s disease many years, perhaps decades, before they show symptoms. Measures of brain amyloid burden are becoming increasingly reliable and may predict development of Alzheimer’s disease 10 years or more before symptom onset. This is exciting because treatments, once identified, will be more effective when started early. Little attention has been paid, however, to the legal, social, emotional and ethical implications of identifying people who will likely develop a disease a decade before symptoms appear. The Center focuses on the implications for individuals, families and employers, while also identifying and developing targeted policies and interventions.
Early detection also will allow for more precise estimates of cognitive change in healthy adults. Despite enormous variability among individuals in cognitive performance, chronological age often is used as a benchmark for cognitive functioning. Research on early detection can help us understand healthy aging and will have implications for age-based policies and practices in our society.