Dementia: An Electrophysiological and Genetic Study

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia (2002-2006)

Principal investigator: Rajka Liščić

Duration: 1 July 2002-2005

Dementia is a neurochemical disorder characterised by a decreased level of acetylcholine (Fassbender, 2001). One of the most common dementias is the Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In patients with AD as well as the fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) decreased level of acetylcholine results in a global cognitive impairment (Sorbi, 2000).

Various neuropsychological tests are used for diagnosis of dementia e.g. Stroop task (Spieler, 1996). As depression in AD may interfere with neurophysiological testing (Nacmias, 2001), event-related potentials (ERPs) have been proposed as a more objective neurophysiological tool of assessing cognitive processes (Pirtošek 2001). The ERP method, used in most studies, is the oddball paradigm (Liščić, 2001). Molecular analysis (tau, APP, presenilin gene) will enable a more accurate diagnosis.

The aim of our study is to compare a diagnostic value of three following methods in various patients with dementia:

  1. A bedside neurophychological testing (Mini-mental test),
  2. Auditory oddball ERP task (the P300 wave),
  3. ERP modification of the Stroop test.

We expect to clarify some pathophysiological mechanisms in various sorts of dementia, particulary the role of tau, APP and presenilin genes and to introduce new electrophysiological methods in the diagnosis of the disease. It is expected that by using more specific electrophysiological paradigm (the Stroop task) we will more successfully set apart fronto-temporal dementia from AD, than by the classical P300 paradigm.

It will have a significance for basic science (mechanism of the disorder) as well as for clinical application (specific, sensitive and cheap method in the diagnosis of cognitive disorders).