In a new study, University of Toronto scientists focused on how to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early. They think that slow brainwaves might be a sign of dementia, as they appear in those regions of the brain which would be affected by neurodegenerative conditions at a later point in the patients’ lives.
Published recently in the journal Human Brain Mapping, the research revealed that people affected by mild cognitive impairment, such as in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as those individuals with aphasia, present slow brainwaves in the brain regions responsible for memory and planning.
“By using brain imaging, we were able to pinpoint that this slowing of electrical activity occurs in specific regions that have not yet lost brain cells but are negatively affected by the disease. This means that these areas could be more responsive to treatments since the brain cells have not died yet and are only starting to undergo damage,” said Jed Meltzer from the Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.
Slow Brainwaves Might Be A Sign Of Dementia
“Our work identifies a potential biomarker that indicates when the brain cells start to malfunction and open the door to implementing targeted brain treatments during earlier stages of neurodegenerative disorders,” added Meltzer.
Interestingly, older adults in this study presented faster brainwaves in comparison with younger participants which comes as a surprising change in the widely-accepted trajectory of older adults with dementia.
“One of the challenges in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is differentiating whether changes to the brain’s structure are a part of normal aging or actually early signs of the disorder. Based on these findings, researchers could potentially use measurements of brainwave activity before and after an intervention to test its effectiveness in a faster and clearer manner,” explained Meltzer who added that the team of researchers is now planning to explore the use of brain stimulation as a therapy to slow down dementia development.