WUFT News

UF Study Uses Peanut Butter To Help Confirm Alzheimer’s Diagnoses

By on October 9th, 2013

One tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler can help confirm early Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses, according to University of Florida researchers.

Jennifer Stamps, a UF graduate student at the UF McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, said she got the idea to use peanut butter to test smell sensitivity when working with Dr. Kenneth Heilman, a professor in UF College of Medicine’s department of neurology.

While shadowing in Heilman’s clinic, Stamps said she saw that patients suffering from cognitive deficiencies were not being tested for their sense of smell, which is one of the first things affected during a cognitive decline, according to a press release. 

For people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the part of the temporal lobe evolved from the smell system is one of the first parts of the brain that degenerates. It is also the same portion of the brain that takes part in forming new memories.

Stamps said she decided to use peanut butter for her test because it is easy to access and is a “pure odorant” detected only by the olfactory nerve.

“Dr. Heilman said, ‘If you can come up with something quick and inexpensive, we can do it,’” Stamps said.

A clinician administered the test to patients using about one tablespoon of peanut butter and a metric ruler to conduct the study.

After the patients closed their eyes and mouth and blocked one of their nostrils, the clinician held the ruler next to the open nostril as the patient breathed normally.

The clinician moved the peanut butter, which was held in a small plastic cup, up the ruler one centimeter at a time toward one nostril until the patients could detect the smell.

The distance was recorded and the same steps were taken with the patients’ second nostril.

The study showed a large difference between the right and left nostrils’ ability to detect the odor for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

In most cases, the left nostril was more impaired and did not detect the odor until the peanut butter was about 10 centimeters closer to the nose.

Patients suffering from other types of dementia had different results. The patients either had no difference in odor detection between nostrils or had right nostrils that were worse at detecting the peanut butter odor.

Stamps and Heilman said the peanut butter test could be helpful for clinics that don’t have access to the necessities to perform more elaborate tests.

UF Health will use the peanut butter test, as well as other clinical tests, to help determine neurological functioning in patients with memory disorders.

“At the moment, we can use this test to confirm diagnosis,” Stamps said. “But we plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer’s disease.”


This entry was posted in Health and Science, University of Florida. Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Health and Science

The completed henna design on Lilia Lima's head is entirely free-handed by artist and pre-med student Jeena Karr. Safe, beautiful and fresh, the art gives cancer patients like Lima a new way to feel beautiful.

Henna Artist Gives Cancer Patients Crowns Of Beauty

A University of Florida student combines faith and spirituality with the ancient art of henna to comfort cancer patients. Jeena Kar uses henna paste made from the flowering plant, Lawsonia inermis, to create intricate designs on the heads of those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.


IMG_4480

UF Health Plans For Future

UF Health’s five-year strategic plan “The Power of Together” will connect the healthcare community in order to provide quality patient care and improve academic research and interdisciplinary education efforts.


Gov. Rick Scott’s Hospital Commission To Meet For First Time

Gov. Rick Scott wants the federal government to extend hospital funds .The panel, which met for the first time Wednesday, is beginning its work as the governor becomes increasingly antagonistic toward hospitals that receive taxpayer funds.


Congressional Hearing Planned On Lip Showdown

A congressional committee will hold a hearing on Gov. Rick Scott’s showdown with the federal government over health-care funding. However, that meeting could come too late to help close a potential $2.2 billion hole in the state budget.


Drone

UF Ph.D. Students Developing Brain Robot Interaction Technology

Two 25-year-old Ph.D. students at the University of Florida are developing software to control machines to be used as life-enhancers to any operator. The purpose of Brain Computer Interface technology is be an assistant to humans on an everyday basis, especially those with disabilities.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments