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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2011, Article ID 184298, 9 pages
Research Article

Assessing the Sociocultural Impacts of Emerging Molecular Technologies for the Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease

1Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
2Department of Innovation Studies, University of Utrecht, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 14 May 2011; Accepted 14 July 2011

Academic Editor: Benedetta Nacmias

Copyright © 2011 Marianne Boenink et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Novel technologies for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) will impact the way society views and deals with AD and ageing. However, such “sociocultural” impacts are hardly acknowledged in standard approaches of technology assessment. In this paper, we outline three steps to assess such broader impacts. First, conceptual analysis of the ideas underlying technological developments shows how these technologies redraw the boundary between Alzheimer's disease and normal ageing and between biological and social approaches of ageing. Second, imaginative scenarios are designed depicting different possible futures of AD diagnosis and societal ways to deal with ageing and the aged. Third, such scenarios enable deliberation on the sociocultural impact of AD diagnostic technologies among a broad set of stakeholders. An early, broad, and democratic assessment of innovations in diagnostics of AD is a valuable addition to established forms of technology assessment.