What is it about?

When looking for a specific car in a parking lot or luggage at an airport, older people increasingly make more mistakes and take a longer time than young people. Is this normal cognitive aging or risk of early dementia? After following cognitively normal older adults for ten years, this study found that a specific pattern of frontal brainwaves during an everyday memory task predicts a person's risk of cognitive impairment about five years before clinical diagnosis.

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Why is it important?

The study found that a characteristic brainwave signature observed in those normal older adults, who subsequently were diagnosed with cognitive impairment, had already revealed a dementia-like pattern an average five years before clinical diagnosis. This pattern was not observed in older people who remained cognitively normal over the next ten years. Predicting abnormal cognitive decline allows preventive measures, such as life-style changes, that can improve quality of life for older people.

Perspectives

What amazed me and co-authors was how large the effect size is for a small sample study. We are replicating and validating the results in larger and more diverse populations. I think that many of us will want to check our brainwaves at annual check ups in the future.

Professor Yang JIANG
University of Kentucky

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Memory-Related Frontal Brainwaves Predict Transition to Mild Cognitive Impairment in Healthy Older Individuals Five Years Before Diagnosis, Journal of Alzheimer s Disease, January 2021, IOS Press, DOI: 10.3233/jad-200931.
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