Simple 10-minute MindCrowd quiz could help TGen understand Alzheimer's disease

Hundreds of honor society students from across the nation will join more than 60,000 others who have taken the test

PHOENIX, Ariz. - July 30, 2015 - Hundreds of collegiate members of Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society from across the nation attending this weekend's Society conference in Phoenix will learn how they can become catalysts for thousands more to take a unique test designed to help understand Alzheimer's disease.

MindCrowd, designed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), tests a particular type of memory in healthy brains. This word-pair test, first developed in 1894, has been revamped for the digital age, providing insight into the workings of Alzheimer's disease.

"We are using online crowd-sourcing to study how the brain works in healthy people so we can better understand brain disease," said Dr. Matt Huentelman, Associate Professor of Neurogenomics at TGen, who will speak Saturday at the conference about the MindCrowd project and how it is changing scientific research. "I am pleased that Mortar Board is so willing to help us advance MindCrowd."

So far, more than 60,000 people from all 50 states and more than 100 countries have taken the free, simple, 10-minute memory test at

"MindCrowd is a revolutionary approach to understanding our differences in brain performance and how genetic factors impact our memory as we age," Dr. Huentelman explained.

In one of the preliminary MindCrowd findings, researchers found that sex matters: Regardless of age, women outscore men by an average of 6 percent, although more women than men eventually develop Alzheimer's.

MindCrowd represent the first time online research has been gathered and analyzed for insight into the genetic relationship between memory and Alzheimer's.

Collegiate members of Mortar Board will be introduced to the MindCrowd project and will be encouraged to become ambassadors for MindCrowd on their campuses and through their Mortar Board chapters.

"Assisting in Alzheimer's research is a perfect fit with Mortar Board's Ideals of scholarship, leadership and service. Once introduced to the ways they can help promote MindCrowd, our members will help spread the word to encourage many others to take the test," said Mortar Board Executive Director Jane Hamblin. "The multiplier-effect could increase the number of test-takers profoundly."

Launched in 2013, Phase 1 of the MindCrowd project involves online memory testing with a goal of 1 million study participants, age 18 and up.

As the MindCrowd quiz continues, Phase 2 launches this summer when researchers begin contacting Phase 1 test-takers to ask if they are willing to donate a DNA saliva sample and undergo more intensive online brain tests.

With DNA information, Dr. Huentelman's team will look for biomarkers that may be precursors of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.

Of the more than 60,000 test takers, about half have agreed to be contacted for follow up. And of the 14,000 young adult test takers, age 18-24, about 3,000 have agreed to conduct follow-up tests, one of the largest participating groups.

With each additional decade in age, test-takers miss about two more word-pairs on the quiz. College students may have an advantage: Performance on the quiz increases as education levels rise.

Anyone can participate in this research project by visiting Because it is a scientific research project, each participant must complete a web-based consent form before taking the quiz. The test cannot be taken on a mobile phone.

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About Mortar Board
Mortar Board is the premier national honor society recognizing college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. Since its founding in 1918, more than a quarter of a million members have been initiated at 231 chartered chapters across the United States. Mortar Board provides its members with opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. Some notable Mortar Board members include professional football player and philanthropist Drew Brees, former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and award-winning actor Marion Ross. Learn more about Mortar Board at

About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information,

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]

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