Alzheimer’s disease: Can a new electroencephalography test detect Alzheimer’s disease early?

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  • A new dementia assessment test known as fastball EEG has proven effective in detecting changes in brain waves as patients memorize images.
  • Fastball is unique in that it does not require the patient to understand the test, allowing researchers to avoid issues such as education, language and strain that can affect the performance of traditional tests.
  • Experts agree that fastballs show promise in diagnosing dementia. Studies are currently underway at our clinic in Bristol to further investigate the effectiveness of this test.

Early detection is important for the treatment and prevention of any disease. When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers continue to search for new methods for early diagnosis.

The Universities of Bath and Bristol have secured £1.5m/$1.9m funding for a new test to help detect early Alzheimer’s and dementia. The assessment of dementia is called a “straight-ball electroencephalogram.”

“Fastball” uses an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset to examine a patient’s brain waves. Previous studies have demonstrated that fastballs are effective in detecting changes in brain waves during memory recognition.

Unlike current diagnostic tests that include personal questions to test an individual’s memory, Fastball doesn’t require the test to be understood.

“The fastball test is unique because it does not require the patient to understand the test or respond in any way. Education, language, strain, etc. can affect anyone’s test performance, and the passive nature of fastball helps to avoid that.” Dr. George Stothart, a cognitive neuroscientist, told Healthline.

Over the next five years, the team plans to test Fastball on more than 1,000 patients at the dementia clinic at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

This is the largest study to use brain waves to screen for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Now that we have a proof-of-principle that Fastball works, we plan to move Fastball from the lab to clinics that specialize in dementia diagnostics. Or how we can improve it, and how best to make Fastball available to the NHS and other healthcare systems,” added Storthart.

Joel Salinas, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of neurology at New York University Langone Health and chief medical officer of Isaac Health, an online memory center, explained that the study is compelling in several ways. bottom.

First, given that current methods are highly subjective and error-prone, the use of a completely non-invasive, passive test like Fastball could be a game-changer in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. may bring about.

The concept of detecting dementia by measuring changes in brain waves when viewing images is a fascinating one, and the field is being actively researched by a variety of researchers, each with their own angle. I have been working on this research since.

While these early signs and similar physiological markers are encouraging, it is worth noting that more studies are needed to validate the efficacy and reliability of this and similar diagnostic tools. , Salinas pointed out.

“There are several ways to support a diagnosis of dementia. If this method can provide a new way that is cheap, fast, and painless, it could ultimately help,” said Baptist Health Marcus Institute for Neuroscience. neuropsychologist Raphael Waldo, M.D.

Dementia is a late-to-end stage of the disease that often begins years or decades ago, quietly and unnoticed. As a result, dementia and the diseases that cause it are often not diagnosed until the disease has reached an advanced stage, says Jason Krellman, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. explain. Early detection helps patients and families by giving them valuable time to address modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline, plan future care, and seek the highest quality palliative care. There is a possibility.

“If effective, a diagnostic test such as Fastball EEG could be used over the current standard of diagnostic services for reasons such as cost and lack of local expertise and appropriate diagnostic facilities. It will allow early diagnosis in a wide range of patients that may not be possible,” said Krellmann. “Although the available data are promising, further studies are needed to fully characterize the diagnostic potential of this technique and its ability to assist in the differential diagnosis of various diseases that cause dementia.”

Another advantage of this test is that it is portable.

“Technology portability, [allows] Being able to run the tests anywhere is a key benefit to consider for such tests,” Salinas said. “If successful, it could be a powerful tool in the early detection and long-term management of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Besides the fastball, there are other promising diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Biomarker tests for beta-amyloid and tau protein in cerebrospinal fluid and PET scans are the most direct diagnostic tools available to us,” Salinas said. “The development of blood tests and other types of advanced imaging that can identify these biomarkers is also a rapidly evolving area of ​​research. These measures may enable even earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. there is.”

However, it’s important to note that while the emerging technologies are promising, they are at different stages of development and require more research to confirm their accuracy and effectiveness, Salinas said. added.

The Universities of Bath and Bristol have won £1.5m/$1.9m funding for a new fastball EEG test to improve early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Unlike other diagnostic tests, Fastball is passive and does not require patients to understand the test. This eliminates issues such as education, language and tension that can affect test results.

Doctors agree that fastballs can prove beneficial in early diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That said, more research is needed.

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