EEG Markers for Cognitive Decline in Elderly Subjects with subjective memory complaints

Imperial College Press
Publication Type:
Journal article
Alexander David et al. 2006, 'EEG Markers for Cognitive Decline in Elderly Subjects with subjective memory complaints', Imperial College Press, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 49-74.
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New treatments for Alzheimer's disease require early detection of cognitive decline. Most studies seeking to identify markers of early cognitive decline have focused on a limited number of measures. We sought to establish the profile of brain function measures which best define early neuropsychological decline. We compared subjects with subjective memory complaints to normative controls on a wide range of EEG derived measures, including a new measure of event-related spatio-temporal waves and biophysical modeling, which derives anatomical and physiological parameters based on subject's EEG measurements. Measures that distinguished the groups were then related to cognitive performance on a variety of learning and executive function tasks. The EEG measures include standard power measures, peak alpha frequency, EEG desynchronization to eyes-opening, and global phase synchrony. The most prominent differences in subjective memory complaint subjects were elevated alpha power and an increased number of spatio-temporal wave events. Higher alpha power and changes in wave activity related most strongly to a decline in verbal memory performance in subjects with subjective memory complaints, and also declines in maze performance and working memory reaction time. Interestingly, higher alpha power and wave activity were correlated with improved performance in reverse digit span in the subjective memory complaint group. The modeling results suggest that differences in the subjective memory complaint subjects were due to a decrease in cortical and thalamic inhibitory gains and slowed dendritic time-constants. The complementary profile that emerges from the variety of measures and analyses points to a nonlinear progression in electrophysiological changes from early neuropsychological decline to late-stage dementia, and electrophysiological changes in subjective memory complaint that vary in their relationships to a range of memory-related tasks.
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