Should I be worried by a lapse of memory?

Older adults can often be frustrated by little lapses in memory… things like forgetting where you put the car keys, or having trouble thinking of a word. Sometimes the forgetful moments might have more serious consequences, such as forgetting to take medications or attend an appointment.


Being able to recognise these lapses of memory is known as “subjective cognitive decline” (SCD) and it’s the earliest age-related change in cognition. SCD is a self-reported decline in different cognitive abilities. These increase with age and are commonly seen in individuals aged 40 years old and over.


What is WAMS?

The WA Memory Study (WAMS) has been investigating SCD, among other things, for more than 25 years. Started in 1996 by Professor Ralph Martins, it has been led by Professor Hamid Sohrabi since 2010.

The team of researchers at ARA are always seeking new ways to make a positive impact in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. WAMS is an ongoing longitudinal study of cognitive ageing.

The study is trying to understand:

  • what changes in our cognitive abilities occur as we age
  • what measures can be used to predict such changes
  • whether these changes are predictive of future risk of dementia and specifically Alzheimer’s disease

The aim is to advance our knowledge to help to shape a better future for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The study has led to pioneering advancements which will allow the discovery of new methods to predict, diagnose, prevent or treat cognitive impairments in older adults.


A Global Reach

In 2022, another 120 participants took part in this important study, which is cited in research across the globe. Participants undergo clinical and memory assessments, blood sample collection for Alzheimer’s plasma-based biomarkers analysis, and brain imaging.

Since the study’s inception in 1996, more than 1200 people have been tested at 18-month intervals for the purpose of better understanding memory changes across the ageing process.

WAMS aims to find out what factors may influence memory change and also to follow the longitudinal trajectory of cognitive change and see who will, or will not, develop dementia.


The study hopes to identify what characteristics are specifically associated with Alzheimer’s disease in order to pinpoint individuals who are at a higher-than-average risk of developing dementia.

This is enabling new screening tests to be developed to identify people who may have the very early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.