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Revealed: Why Alzheimer's patients can't recognise their loved ones

A recent study has revealed why Alzheimer's impairs the memory and the ability to recognise your loved ones.

The study by the team of Dr. Sven Joubert of the Universite de Montreal has showed that, in addition to causing memory problems, Alzheimer's disease also damages visual face perception. This conclusion may help families better understand their loved one's unavoidable difficulties and result in new avenues to delay this painful aspect of the disease.

For the study, the Montreal team hired people with Alzheimer's along with healthy seniors to assess their ability to observe faces and cars in photos that were either upright or upside down.

Dr. Joubert stated that the results for people with Alzheimer's were similar to those in the control group as far as answer accuracy and the time to process the upside-down faces and cars were concerned. To execute these tasks, the brain must carry out a local analysis of the various image components perceived by the eye. However, in case of upright faces, people with Alzheimer's were much dimmer than the healthy individuals.

The fact that impaired facial recognition might originate from a holistic perception problem offers many opportunities to help patients recognize their loved ones for longer.

The study featured in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.