You are here

Brain test may predict Alzheimer's

5th October 2005

A new, simple and inexpensive test could detect early symptoms of the degenerative brain disease Alzheimer’s, allowing patients to receive treatment sooner, a new study claims.

Scientists from the NYU School of Medicine in New York found that early indications of Alzheimer’s could be spotted using a tool called an EEG (electroencephalograph), which measures electrical activity in the brain.

The researchers, reporting in the latest edition of the journal Neurobiology of Aging found that a computer analysis of the EEG, which measures the brain’s electrical activity, was almost 95 per cent accurate in identifying people who would, or would not, see cognitive decline.

The easy-to-use and painless test for the disease enabled scientists in trials to accurately predict those out of a group of 44 healthy people in their 60s and 70s who would develop dementia over the next seven to ten years and also individuals who would witness little change in brain activity over the same period.

Leslie S Prichep, associate director of the Brain Research Laboratories of the Department of Psychiatry, explained: “Our results suggest that quantitative analysis of the EEG is sensitive to the earliest signs of the dementing process.”

Dr Prichep predicts that the EEG may be used in the future to test for the likelihood of people developing Alzheimer’s, but has called for further research to be carried out into testing. An EEG requires recording electrodes to be placed onto the scalp of the patient.