The Neurocognitive Index: A Deep Dive Into Brain Function and Health

Introduction to Neurocognitive Health

The Intricacies of the Human Brain

The human brain is a complex, fascinating organ. It’s made up of billions of neurons connected by trillions of synapses. These synapses allow neurons to connect and communicate with each other so that all the vital functions of the brain and body continue working together effectively.

In this blog, we’ll look at the following topics:

The Theriome 12 Metabolic Blood Test: A Comprehensive Overview

At Theriome, we offer a distinctive approach to evaluating health, setting us apart from other at-home microbiome test kits. Our focus centers on 12 vital metabolic foundations, giving you a comprehensive overview of your overall well-being. These encompass:

  • Liver Health
  • Gut Health
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Inflammatory Score
  • Environmental Toxin Exposure Index
  • Neurocognitive Index
  • Nutritional Index
  • Mutation Load
  • Aging Index
  • Integumentary Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Mitochondrial Health

For each of these foundations, you will receive your results in the form of a personalized score ranging from 1 to 10, allowing you to take charge of your health journey.

Highlighting the Neurocognitive Index as a Key Metabolic Pillar

Your neurocognitive index is included as one of the key pillars of Theriome 12. Using your blood sample, our lab will provide valuable information on how well your brain operates and any potential concerns.

Understanding Neurocognitive Functioning

The Brain’s Role in Overall Health and Well-being

The brain is not only responsible for cognitive functions like decision-making and communication. It controls your emotions, motor skills, vision, respiration, and every other part of the body. 

The brain connects to the spinal cord, a vital portion of the central nervous system, allowing access to all nerves in the body. If your brain isn’t functioning correctly, this directly affects other vital functions and can cause health conditions to develop, lowering your quality of life.

Key Components of Neurocognitive Function

The brain has six key functions as outlined by the DSM-5

  1. Complex attention. The ability to focus on multiple tasks at once and make intentional decisions on what to pay attention to and what to ignore.
  2. Executive function. High-level cognitive skills include planning, prioritizing, decision-making, and task management.
  3. Learning and memory. The ability to record information and draw from it when needed.
  4. Language. Skills related to communicating orally, in writing, and reading. Language abilities aid in object naming, word selection, speech fluency, grammar, syntax, and receptive language.
  5. Perceptual-motor control. Coordination skills that allow you to respond to stimuli and interact with your environment, including your choice of response and reaction time.
  6. Social cognition. The ability to process, record, and draw information from social contexts to explain and predict your and others’ behaviors.

The Difference Between Normal Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Decline

Aging is a natural process that each person goes through. As you grow older, your brain goes through a process of developing and eventually declining. Cognitive decline typically occurs around age 70 and older. This process may be more rapid in the case of abnormal cognitive decline. 

Abnormal cognitive decline causes more severe changes to thinking abilities. It’s characterized by becoming more forgetful, losing your train of thought, and having trouble following a conversation, among other things. This condition may occur due to dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and developmental disabilities.

What the Neurocognitive Index Measures

Key Biomarkers and Indicators of Brain Health

We’ve outlined critical indicators of your brain’s health. High levels of or deficiencies in specific biomarkers can put you at higher risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Omega 3

The Omega 3 Index measures your bloodstream’s DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) levels. Higher amounts of these acids are associated with better brain health. Where your levels are at tends to depend on dietary and genetic factors.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient in your body. It contributes to the production of necessary chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which produce energy and keep you sharp and happy.

Vitamin D

Adequate amounts of vitamin D support your bones, muscles, immune system, and brain health. Deficiencies in this essential vitamin are associated with cognitive impairment, poor immune function, and nervous system disorders.

Red Blood Cell (RBC) Magnesium

Magnesium contributes to healthy muscles, nerves, bones, and blood sugar levels. Not enough magnesium in your daily caloric intake can increase your risk of brain-related health problems, including stroke and osteoporosis.


The ApoB:ApoA ratio biomarker looks at the balance of inflammation in cholesterol particles. Balanced levels are associated with a healthier heart and brain, while unbalanced levels can increase your risk for heart disease and related conditions.


The amino acid homocysteine is broken down by vitamins B12, B6, and folate to produce essential chemicals in the body. When homocysteine levels become elevated, your risk of cardiovascular disease, brain atrophy, white matter hyperintensity, and other harmful brain conditions can increase.

Phospholipid DHA

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid located in the brain and nerves. It contributes to cognitive performance, memory, and reasoning abilities. Low levels of DHA are associated with poor neurological development, low IQ, cognitive dysfunction, and a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Interpreting the Results: Gaining Insight into Brain Efficiency

The daily index includes the ideal amount that each biomarker should be at. This is a broad estimate that doesn’t take into account specific factors such as sex, age, and pre-existing conditions. Always consult with your doctor on where your levels are at to gain a better understanding of your health.

BiomarkerHealthy Blood Levels
Omega 38% or higher
Vitamin B12200-600 pg/mL
Vitamin D20-40 ng/mL
RBC Magnesium1.7-2.2 mg/dL
ApoB:ApoA0.8 (sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 70%)
Homocysteine5-15 μmol/L
Phospholipid DHA1.4-5.1% by weight
Measurement Reference List

pg/mL = picograms per milliliter

ng/mL = nanograms per milliliter

mg/dL = milligrams per decilitre

μmol/L = micromolar to micromole per liter

The Implications of Altered Neurocognitive Function

Common Neurocognitive Disorders and Their Symptoms

Neurocognitive disorders can be divided into three categories: Delirium, mild neurocognitive disorder, and major neurocognitive disorder.

Delirium causes rapid changes to the brain’s physical matter. The impact is sudden and powerful, causing mental confusion and changes in emotions, perception, movement, and consciousness. You may experience disruptions in sleep patterns, a decline in short-term memory, and disorganized thinking. Blood and urine tests can assist in gaining a diagnosis and treatment to alleviate these symptoms.

Mild neurocognitive disorder is characterized by a decreased mental function that lessens the quality of life but still allows you to be independent in your daily living. Some examples of symptoms accompanied by this disorder include forgetfulness and difficulty with recalling, retaining, or learning new information.

Major neurocognitive disorder creates a much greater strain on a person’s life, making independent living extremely difficult to impossible. A diagnosis requires a significant decline in at least one of the main cognitive domains: executive function, complex attention, language, learning, memory, perceptual-motor, or social cognition.

Types of Neurocognitive DisordersMost Common Symptoms
Alzheimer’s Disease– Memory loss
– Confusion
– Loss of balance/coordination
– Aggression/irritability
– Wandering
– Personality changes
– Depression
– Hallucinations
– Paranoia
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease– Memory loss
– Loss of balance/coordination
– Slurred speech
– Vision problems/blindness
– Jerking muscle spasms
– Rhythmic muscle contractions
– Amnesia or dementia
– Delusion
– Lack of concentration
– Anxiety, depression, or apathy
Frontotemporal Degeneration

– Personality changes
– Inappropriate, impulsive, or repetitive behaviors
– Impaired judgment
– Apathy/lack of empathy
– Decreased self-awareness
– Loss of energy and motivation
– Emotional withdrawal
– Agitation
-Difficulty planning and organizing
Huntington’s Disease– Difficulty concentrating
– Memory lapses
– Depression
– Stumbling and clumsiness
– Mood swings
– Involuntary jerking or fidgety movements of the limbs and body
– Difficulty speaking clearly
Swallowing problems
– Slow or rigid movements
– Personality changes
– Breathing problems
Lewy Body Disease– Decline in cognitive abilities
– Visual hallucinations
– Sleep problems
– Concentration problems
– Apathy and loss of motivation
– Depression
– Slowed movement
– Tremored/shuffled walk
– Rigid muscles
– Loss of bladder control
Parkinson’s Disease– Body tremors
– Muscle stiffness
– Slowness of movement
– Impaired balance/coordination
– Depression
– Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking
– Urinary problems or constipation
Skin problems
– Memory problems
-Inability to plan and accomplish tasks
Peripheral Vascular Disease– Painful leg cramping
– Muscle fatigue or heaviness
– Weak pulses in legs and feet
– Pain during exercise
-Coldness of the affected body part
– Blue or purple color to the skin
-Vascular ulcers
– Gangrene (Blackened areas of skin or skin loss)
– Numbness
– Hair loss on legs

The Impact of Chronic Illnesses on Brain Function

Chronic illness is commonly associated with a decline in cognitive functioning due to its effect on essential processes. For example, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension are related to vascular dementia through disrupting circulation to the brain. Likewise, chronic illnesses can throw off vital brain chemicals, including GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which contribute to good cognitive and emotional health.

Lifestyle Factors That Influence Neurocognitive Health

Research has found several behaviors and habits linked to your neurological well-being.

  • Physical Activity. One 2020 study found that regular exercise can improve brain function by up to 15%.
  • Balanced Diet. Researchers found a 53% lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease for those with the highest MIND diet scores, a diet that focuses on brain-healthy foods.
  • Smoking. A 2015 study discovered that people who smoke are 30% more likely to develop dementia than people who do not.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can disrupt brain communications and affect brain cells’ functions.

Strategies to Enhance Neurocognitive Health

Dietary Recommendations for Optimal Brain Health


What Makes Them Good For You?

Berries are rich in antioxidants that stimulate blood and oxygen flow to the brain, boosting concentration.

Best Kinds: 

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Green, Leafy Vegetables

What Makes Them Good For You?

Green, leafy vegetables are packed with vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene, critical nutrients for protecting your heart and blood vessels.

Best Kinds: 

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Collards

Fatty Fish

What Makes Them Good?

Fatty fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, contributing to better brain cell communication.

Best Kinds: 

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Albacore tuna
  • Herring
  • Sardines


What Makes Them Good?

Nuts offer a variety of benefits to brain health, including improved memory, inflammation prevention, and contributing to overall cognitive functioning.

Best Kinds: 

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Macadamias

The Role of Physical Activity in Cognitive Functioning

Years of research have proven clear connections between exercise and increased brain health. Many people have experienced this firsthand by simply feeling the difference in their physical and mental state following a workout. 

The CDC reports that regular physical activity can reduce your risk of cognitive decline, including dementia. Additionally, moderate exercise is proven to enhance memory and cognitive flexibility, while high-intensity exercise boosts your information processing speed.

Likewise, your emotional state can improve with exercise. A study revealed that the average individual experiences 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. However, for those who exercise regularly, the number of days is reduced by over 40 percent.

Mental Exercises and Activities to Boost Brain Power

Getting your mind moving is as important as your physical being. Various fun, creative, and easy ways to challenge yourself cognitively exist. Consider the following ideas:

  • Self-guided or group meditation
  • Board and card games (solitaire, chess, checkers, etc.)
  • Crossword and jigsaw puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Word searches
  • Video games
  • Listening to music
  • Learning an instrument

The Value of Monitoring Your Neurocognitive Index

Early Detection and Proactive Brain Health Management

By gaining a profound understanding of your cognitive well-being, you’ll be aware of any concerns to discuss with your doctor. This will enable you to achieve improved overall health.

The Role of Regular Testing in Cognitive Health Maintenance

Your brain is the computer of the body, controlling all bodily functions and playing a vital role in your overall health. Regular neurocognitive testing informs you about any issues that need to be addressed. Any concerns should be looked at as soon as you receive your results.

Prioritizing Brain Health in a Complex World

The Significance of Neurocognitive Health in Daily Life

Your brain works constantly throughout your day, making decisions, practicing your skills and abilities, and communicating with others. Leading a lifestyle that supports and strengthens your cognitive health sets you up for a future of independence where you’re in control.

Empowering Individuals with the Theriome 12 Neurocognitive Index

You can complete your own at-home test kit with Theriome 12 and take control of your health journey today.

Unlock the power of personalized metabolic insights.

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