Posted on Aug 24, 2023, 10 p.m.
Promising research published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Washington University-St. Louis describes developing a digital biomarker that detects early signs of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in brainwave patterns in patients who are sleeping with a wearable headband recorder.
The biomarker uses electroencephalography (EEG) that can be recorded in a wearable headband device to detect brain wave patterns related to memory reactivation in sleep which happens during deep sleep. The researchers report identifying a relationship between EEG reading and levels of specific molecular changes that are indicative of presymptomatic AD, and that their findings demonstrate the early stages of mild cognitive impairment due to the disease can be detected in the EEG signals.
"This digital biomarker essentially enables any simple EEG headband device to be used as a fitness tracker for brain health," says Brice McConnell, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and study senior author. "Demonstrating how we can assess digital biomarkers for early indications of disease using accessible and scalable headband devices in a home setting is a huge advancement in catching and mitigating Alzheimer's disease at the earliest stages."
"What we found is these abnormal levels of proteins are related to sleep memory reactivations, which we could identify in people's brainwave patterns before they experienced any symptoms," says McConnell. "Identifying these early biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in asymptomatic adults can help patients develop preventative or mitigation strategies before the disease advances."
"We are just scratching the surface with this work, paving the way for affordable and easy-to-use devices to monitor brain health," says McConnell. "This is proof of principle that brain waves during sleep can be turned into a digital biomarker, and our next steps involve perfecting the process."
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