Alzheimer's Test: Do You Recognize This Person?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2009 10:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you have trouble remembering who Britney Spears is, there’s some good news and bad news. Good news: You have managed to forget Britney Spears. Bad news: You might be at risk for Alzheimer’s, according to a new study. A team of scientists recently found that people with a high Alzheimer’s risk have to work harder to remember celebrity names.

The team broke their test subjects into groups based on their presumed Alzheimer’s risk, then showed them the names of various celebrities and non-celebrities, while scanning their brains with fMRI. Those who had hereditary or genetic Alzheimer’s risk factors showed high levels of activity in portions of the brain linked to memory when shown famous names like Spears, or Albert Einstein or Marilyn Monroe. The control group’s brain only lit up when shown obscure names.