Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease known to cause memory loss, thinking and behavioral problems that worsen over time. Currently Alzheimer’s does not have any known cures, but Alzheimer’s disease is heavily studied by researchers across the nation, and millions of dollars are given to Alzheimer’s researchers annually to work towards better understanding the onset and function of the disease to lead to potential treatments and cures.
A team of researchers from the UC Davis Medical Center have received a five-year, $5.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study the earliest stages of cognitive dysfunction through the use of event-related brain potential (ERPs).
ERPs are used to study the different electrical signals that the brain produces during different events. Through the use of ERPs, researchers are able to detect signs of synaptic dysfunction (an early feature of Alzheimer’s disease) through measuring the output of functioning neurons.
In this current study, researchers from the University of California, Davis Medical Center in collaboration with UC San Diego will test ERPs in over 200 participants who are either healthy, have pre-clinical Alzheimer’s, mild Alzheimer’s dementia, or mild cognitive impairment to test the potential of using ERPs as a biomarker to see the progression of Alzheimer’s in clinical trials.
UC Davis Professor of Neurology and co-leader of the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center, John Olichney, explained that “what we will be doing is a very comprehensive cognitive electrophysiology battery,” Olichney said. “It will test attention, memory and language. Rarely have such a broad range of ERP components been tested in the same Alzheimer’s patient cohort. We predict that this comprehensive ERP battery will be particularly sensitive to the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, including its so-called “preclinical” stage.”