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June 2000

Finding the Beginning or Predicting the Future?

Arch Neurol. 2000;57(6):783-784. doi:10.1001/archneur.57.6.783

WHEN AN EAGLE swoops down from a cliff to kill a dove Helen of Troy interprets this as an omen predicting that Odysseus would return after years of wandering to reclaim his queen and his palace. No one, including his son Telemachus, even knew whether Odysseus was alive or capable of defeating the suitors of his wife who occupied his home in Ithaca. The omen proved to be correct, of course. While interpreting signs years in advance of events was never difficult for the ancient Greeks, we modern peoples have more difficulty and need to be cautious in the interpretation of studies predicting future events. This is particularly true when reviewing harbingers of incipient Alzheimer disease (AD).