• New tool developed by NNI is crafted for use in multilingual populations
  • Also not influenced by education level or language preference
  • Paper test to made available on mobile app in near future

A new screening tool has been developed by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) to detect early signs of dementia.

With an increasing prevalence of dementia in our aging society, there is a growing need to diagnose early stages of cognitive impairment.

Called the Visual Cognitive Assessment Tool (VCAT), it is a test comprising visual images which transcends cultural and language barriers.

Most existing cognitive screening tools are designed for use in specific languages and pose significant application problems when used in multilingual populations.
The process of translation often alters the original functions of the test that check memory, language and perception of the patient.

The tool is also not influenced by patients’ language preferences or education levels, which can affect the diagnosis during such cognitive tests.

“Early diagnosis of dementia is crucial for timely intervention and treatment of the disease. With VCAT, we can better detect and diagnose dementia in a multilingual population like Singapore, which comprises various ethnic and language groups” explained Lead researcher of the team, Dr Nagaendran Kandiah, Senior Consultant, Department of Neurology, NNI and Assistant Professor with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.

Research for VCAT conducted on a group of 206 participants found that VCAT’s diagnosis performance is comparable to that of internationally recognised dementia assessment tests.

The team has plans to make the paper test available via a mobile app in the near future.