Simple test to spot Alzheimer’s risk

New York: An affordable non-invasive test that detects electrical activity in the brain may be used to spot people who are at the risk of Alzherimer’s, say researchers.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) technology can be used to measure cognitive deficits in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).

Individuals with aMCI are at twice the risk of others in their age group of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease, but currently no conclusive test exists to predict who will develop the disorder.

While mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the recognised clinical state between healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease, aMCI is a specific type characterised by deficits in episodic memory, the ability to retain new memories such as recent conversations, events, or upcoming appointments.

“We think this might be more sensitive and more specific in pointing out certain cognitive deficits — in this case semantic memory (or long-term memory) — than other non-EEG methods available, because EEG reflects direct neural activity,” said study lead author Hsueh-Sheng Chiang, post-doctoral fellow at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study involving 16 individuals with aMCI and 17 age matched healthy controls, the researchers identified a specific variation in brain waves of individuals with aMCI.

The results depicted a pattern of delayed neural activity that is directly related to the severity of impairment in cognitive performance on a word finding task and may indicate an early dysfunction of progression to Alzheimer’s disease.

The participants were monitored by EEG and presented with pairs of words that either described features of an object or were randomly paired.