A headband device, which acts as a kind of brain health fitness tracker, can spot which people are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s while they sleep – years before the first symptoms appear.
A new study involving researchers from the University of Colorado looked at whether assessing brain activity during sleep could predict risk of Alzheimer’s. The results have been published in the English-language journal “Alzheimers Disease & Dementia”.
Brain activity measured during sleep
The team analyzed the data from a total of 205 older participants. By using headband devices, brain activity during sleep could be evaluated with the help of so-called electroencephalography (EEG).
The researchers focused on specific brain wave patterns that are associated with memory reactivation during sleep and are involved in the processing of memories in deep sleep.
Molecular changes detectable at an early stage
The results show a clear connection between the readings of the electroencephalography and certain molecular changes that indicate pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, according to the experts.
The observed changes in brain activity typically occur many years before the first symptoms of dementia, the researchers add.
“With the digital biomarkers, any simple EEG headband device can be used as a fitness tracker for brain health,” emphasizes study author Dr. Brice McConnell in a press release.
By evaluating the measured values, it was possible to identify early stages of mild cognitive impairment that are related to the concentration of proteins such as amyloid and tau, which are associated with Alzheimer’s.
Link between protein levels and sleep memory
“We found that these abnormal protein levels are related to sleep memory reactivation, which we could see in people’s brainwave patterns before they had any symptoms,” explains Dr. McConnell.
Identifying these early biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in asymptomatic adults could help develop prevention or mitigation strategies before the disease progresses, the doctor adds. (as)