DALLAS, July 15 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that a non-invasive test, which detects variations in brain waves, may detect the early development of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers found that a potential biomarker for the disease exists when measuring brain waves during cognitive testing for mild cognitive impairment, or aMCI, a new study indicates. Mild cognitive impairment is the stage between healthy aging and the full development of Alzheimer's disease. AMCI is a specific type that effects episodic memory.
People with aMCI are at twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than others in their age group, researchers said. There is no test to conclusively diagnose aCMI; results from cognitive and other tests are generally used for diagnosis.
"The majority of [electroencephalogram] EEG research in aMCI has focused on looking at the mind 'at rest,' but we are looking at the brain while it is engaged in the object memory retrieval process," said Hsueh-Sheng Chiang, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in a press release. "We think this might be more sensitive and more specific in pointing out certain cognitive deficits, in this case semantic memory, than other non-EEG methods available, because EEG reflects direct neural activity."
Researchers measured the brain waves of 16 people using an EEG to measure neural response while the participants completed memory tasks. Participants were shown two words and asked to indicate if they could be related or not: "humps" and "desert" could remind people of a camel, but "humps" and "monitor" might be considered a random pair.
The researchers found the worse participants did on the task, the greater delay the EEG showed of brain activity.
Researchers plan to recruit more people for the study with the hope of following them over time to confirm how effective the testing actually is.
"This protocol could potentially provide complementary information for diagnosis of pre-dementia stages including MCI and identify neural changes that can occur in cases of Alzheimer's disease," Chiang said.