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National health center develops online system to study dementia prevention

The National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) has developed an online system to accumulate data on registered people's cognitive abilities and lifestyles to study dementia prevention, it was announced on June 22.

    The center, based in the Tokyo suburban city of Kodaira, will start allowing healthy individuals aged 40 or older to register with the system, dubbed, "IROOP," on July 5. It is reportedly the country's first registration system to target tens of thousands of individuals for the purpose of studying measures to prevent dementia.

    Under the program, the center will collect data on the cognitive functions of registrants, detect early signs of dementia, and try to determine the factors that help prevent the onset of dementia. The center will also encourage clinical research and trials for the purpose of developing drugs to improve cognitive function.

    Registrants will answer an approximately 145-item questionnaire every six months about their lifestyle habits including diet and sleep, which will take about 20 minutes. They will also take a cognitive function test via telephone for free, which will take them some 15 minutes. The test, called "Atama no kenko check," has been proven useful in detecting signs of dementia both in Japan and the United States.

    Those who take the test can view their test results, as well as their changes with age through charts. They can also obtain information about cognitive function and the promotion of good health via the system's website. If they request, registrants can also receive invitations to clinical trials.

    "It's become a global trend to detect dementia early and treat patients. To that end, it is necessary to observe changes in people who have not yet developed dementia," NCNP President Hidehiro Mizusawa told a news conference.

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