Posted on Apr 15, 2009, 10 a.m.
By gary clark
An EEG test developed by New York University School of Medicine is giving doctors a less expensive and less invasive technique to diagnose Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage, when the disease can be more effectively treated.
Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have been able to determine which lines generated by electroencephalogram (EEG) scans indicate normal aging, versus which ones may signal early onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Using this knowledge, they developed computer software that converts EEG scans into numbers. This is giving psychiatrists the ability to spot clear differences between the left and right sides - invaluable information they can use to evaluate someone's likelihood for developing Alzheimer's at an early stage. Says Leslie Prichep, an associate director of the Brain Research Laboratories of the Department of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine: "Going from the squiggly lines to a description of those events, we are then comparing those numbers to the expected numbers for the age of the individual."
Following a seven-year study, the researchers found that their method is nearly 95 percent accurate in distinguishing between those who would decline in terms of brain function and those who would not. For example, the "theta" brain wave, which originates in a region of the brain shown to be impaired in dementia, is much more prominent in people likely to exhibit mental decline. Prichep says this is important, because "there are now drugs that have been shown to be very useful in stopping and slowing the progression of dementia." Moreover, the new technique is less expensive, less painful and less invasive than using traditional MRIs or PET scans to evaluate brain function.
Before the tool can be validated for widespread use, the results of the NYU study must be replicated in larger studies. And in fact, the NYU researchers have expanded their study and are running the new computer software program through its database of thousands of records from elderly patients.
News Release: Psychiatrists can predict onset of Alzheimer's with new EEG testwww.sciencedaily.com