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2016 Grants - Turk
Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease Using Event Related Potentials
Katherine Turk, M.D.
Boston VA Research Institute, Inc.
2016 Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Fellowship (AACF)
Can measuring specific changes in brain activity improve the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease?
A major focus of Alzheimer’s research is identifying novel tools to diagnose the disease at its earliest stages. Current methods that measure the levels of beta-amyloid in the brain or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can be expensive and invasive. Therefore, researchers are looking for alternate ways to detect brain changes that may suggest increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Recent studies show that specific alterations in the brain’s electrical signaling system may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Signals called event-related potentials (or ERPs) can be measured using a procedure known as electroencephalography (EEG) that non-invasively records brain activity using electrodes placed on the scalp. More research is needed to determine if changes in ERPs can be used for early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Katherine Turk, M.D., and her team will conduct a study to determine if measuring changes in ERPs can improve the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The study will include 130 participants ages 50-100 years old with reported memory problems. The individuals will undergo several tests, including an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measures ERPs, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging scan to measure brain beta-amyloid, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure changes in brain structure, and standard tests of memory and other cognitive functions. Dr. Turk and colleagues will determine if measuring ERPs can improve diagnostic accuracy and clinical management of the participants. They will also assess how the ERP results compare to the results of the MRI and PET brain imaging.
The results of this study could help validate ERPs as a tool to improve the accuracy of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Such tests could provide a non-invasive, less expensive method to identify individuals at risk for developing Alzheimer’s and serve as a new way to track the effectiveness of treatments.