Advances in Alzheimer's Imaging are Changing the Experience of Alzheimer's Disease


Neuroimaging is advancing a new definition of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Using imaging biomarkers, clinicians may begin to diagnose the disease by identifying pathology and neurodegeneration in either cognitively impaired or unimpaired adults. This “biomarker-based” diagnosis may allow clinicians novel opportunities to use interventions that either delay the onset or slow the progression of cognitive decline, but it will also bring novel challenges. How will changing the definition of AD from a clinical to a biomarker construct change the experience of living with the disease? Knowledge of AD biomarker status can affect how individuals feel about themselves (internalized stigma) and how others judge them (public stigma). Following a review of AD stigma, we appraise how advances in diagnosis may enable or interrupt its transfer from clinical to preclinical stages and then explore conceptual and pragmatic challenges to addressing stigma in routine care.