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Hope for earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis

16th April 2007

Scientists have come up with a test that could lead to earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

By evaluating electroencephalogram (EEG) signals, early changes in memory and brain function can be detected without invasive investigations.

The EEG test involves playing high and low frequency sounds and asking participants to press a button when they hear a sound. Those with Alzheimer's generally take longer to register the sound.

The test was found to be less than 90 per cent effective but it is thought it still has much value, particularly for patients who have limited access to teaching hospitals, where they may undergo 12 months of evaluation before a diagnosis can be made.

Dr Kounis, an investigator in the study, said: "Modern engineering methods are enabling us to take EEG, an 80-year-old technique for measuring brain activity, and turn it into a cutting-edge tool for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease."

Dr Robi Polikar, principal investigator, said: "Our ultimate goal is to increase the number of patients who are diagnosed earlier so they can start treatment sooner and slow the progress of Alzheimer's and improve their quality of life."