New headband to detect the first signs of Alzheimer’s while you sleep


The results, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, identify a relationship between EEG readings and levels of specific molecular changes indicative of presymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional findings further demonstrate that the early stages of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease can be detected in EEG signals.

“This digital biomarker essentially allows any simple headband EEG device to be used as a physical activity tracker for brain health,” said Brice McConnell, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Demonstrating how we can assess digital biomarkers for early indications of disease using accessible and scalable at-home headset devices is a major advance in detecting and mitigating Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages.”

In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers analyzed data from 205 older adults, identifying measurable problems with memory reactivation in association with levels of proteins such as amyloid and tau that accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease.

“What we found is that these abnormal protein levels are related to sleep memory reactivations, which we were able to identify in people’s brain wave patterns before they experienced any symptoms,” McConnell said. “Identifying these early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in asymptomatic adults may help patients develop preventative or mitigating strategies before the disease progresses.”

Researchers say this is an exciting step toward using wearable devices as digital biomarkers for disease detection. “With this work we are just scratching the surface, paving the way for affordable, easy-to-use devices to monitor brain health,” McConnell said.

“This is proof of principle that brain waves during sleep can be converted into a digital biomarker, and our next steps involve refining the process.”


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