Famous Faces Test for Identification of Early Dementia (BBC News / NHS Choices / Neurology)


A face recognition test could one day be added to mental agility tests when screening for the early signs of dementia.

A small study with 30 patients performed at Northwestern University in Chicago, and reported in the Neurology journal,  found that a facial recognition test could help to identify early onset primary progressive aphasia (PPA). People with this rare form of dementia struggled to identify black and white prints of famous people, compared with dementia-free individuals. Brain scans of the individuals with PPA indicated loss of brain tissue in those areas responsible for recognising faces.

Trials are needed to see if similar tests might assist in the early diagnosis of PPA and other forms of the dementia.

Read more: BBC News: Test of famous faces ‘helps to spot early dementia’.


Test of famous faces ‘helps to spot early dementia’. London: BBC Health News, August 13th 2013.

As usual, the NHS Choices “Behind the Headlines” critical appraisal of this research offers some perspective and due caution.

“The study has not examined whether this test could be used to accurately diagnose people in the initial diagnosis of PPA and certainly not the more common types of dementia”.

Full Text Link (b)


Could ‘famous faces test’ be used to spot dementia? London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, August 13th 2013.

This relates to:

Full Text Link (c) (Note: This article requires a suitable Athens password, a journal subscription or payment for access).


Gefen, T. Wieneke, C. [and] Martersteck, A. [et al] (2013). Naming vs knowing faces in primary progressive aphasia: A tale of 2 hemispheres. Neurology, August 13th 2013, Vol.81(7), pp.658-64. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).

[A brief reference to this item features in Dementia and Elderly Care: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWNHST), Volume 3 Issue 9, August 2013].

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in BBC News, Diagnosis, For Carers (mostly), For Doctors (mostly), For Nurses and Therapists (mostly), For Researchers (mostly), In the News, International, NHS Digital (Previously NHS Choices), Quick Insights, Universal Interest and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.