This Test Can Predict Who Gets Alzheimer’s

HANDOUT – High school students in 1960 take the Project Talent test, the largest survey of American teenagers ever done; it is now being used for research into dementia. (American Institutes for Research) (N/A/American Institutes for Research)

In 1960, about half a million teens took a test. Now it could predict whether they get Alzheimer’s.

| Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post – In 1960, Joan Levin, 15, took a test that turned out to be the largest survey of American teenagers ever conducted.

It took two and a half days to administer and included 440,000 students from 1,353 public, private and parochial high schools around the country – including Parkville Senior High School in Parkville, Maryland, where she was a student.

“We knew at the time that they were going to follow up for a long time,” Levin said – but she thought that meant about 20 years.

Fifty-eight years later, the answers she and her peers gave are still being used by researchers – most recently in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.

A study released this month found that subjects who did well on test questions as teenagers had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their 60s and 70s than those who scored poorly.

Known as Project Talent, the test was funded by the U.S. government.

Students answered questions about academics and general knowledge as well as their home life, health, aspirations, and personality traits, and the test was intended to identify students with an aptitude for science and engineering.

Test-takers included Janis Joplin, then a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas, and Jim Morrison, then a junior at George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia.

In recent years, researchers have used Project Talent data for follow-up studies, including one published September 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association … Read more at The Washington Post.

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