Pioneering test could increase early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say
Pioneering EEG test could dramatically increase early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say.
Scientists have developed a two-minute passive test called Fastball EEG that measures people’s brain waves in response to a series of images and could help diagnose dementia earlier.
Participants watch a series of flashing images on a computer screen as their brain waves are measured using an EEG cap.
Researchers at the University of Bath said the technique was very effective at detecting small, subtle changes in brain waves that occur when a person remembers a picture.
They said he was also passive, meaning the person doing the test didn’t need to understand the task or respond and may not even be aware of his response from memory.
The Fastball EEG system was inexpensive, portable, and relied on pre-existing technology already available in hospitals, the researchers said.
They were now starting to use Fastball EEG in a study of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
Alzheimer’s disease is the underlying cause of around 60% of dementias and estimates suggest the disease costs the UK economy around £ 26bn per year.
The disease is currently diagnosed using a combination of subjective and objective reports of cognitive decline, often involving memory tests.
The researchers said earlier diagnosis could help with prescription drugs and also allow lifestyle changes to slow the progression of the disease.
They hope Fastball EEG could help lower the age of diagnosis to as little as five years.
Principal investigator and cognitive neuroscientist, Dr George Stothart, said: “Fastball offers a truly new way of measuring how our brains are functioning.
“The person being assessed does not need to understand the test, or even to answer, they just look at a screen of flashing images and the way we manipulate the images that appear, we can learn a lot about what is or is his brain, not capable of doing.
“The tests we are currently using to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease do not take into account the first 20 years of the disease, which means we are missing out on huge opportunities to help people.
“For decades now, we have had scientific research tools capable of probing brain function, but we have never made the leap to a viable clinical tool for the objective assessment of cognition. We hope Fastball can be that jump.
“We are at a really exciting stage in its development.
“We are testing the tool at increasingly early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and expanding the type of brain function it can measure, to include language and visual processing.
“This will help us not only to understand Alzheimer’s disease, but also the many other less common forms of dementia.
“Ultimately, the holy grail of a tool like this would be a dementia screening tool used in middle age for everyone, regardless of symptoms, in the same way we test for it. high blood pressure.
“We’re a long way from that, but it’s a step towards that goal.”
The research was funded by the Alzheimer charity BRACE.
– The article, A Passive And Objective Measure Of Recognition Memory In Alzheimer’s Disease Using Fastball Memory Assessment, is published in the journal Brain.