Investigating technology for screening populations who are ‘at risk’ of developing Alzheimer’s
Down’s Syndrome is a genetic condition that is usually associated with some degree of intellectual disability. People with Down’s Syndrome also age prematurely and are at very high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Around half of people with Down’s Syndrome have Alzheimer’s disease by the age of fifty.
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a technology that records brain activity through small disks, called electrodes, on the scalp. EEG is a promising candidate for screening ‘at risk’ populations as it it is entirely safe, relatively inexpensive and undemanding for participants.
The ‘EEG measures of aging and Alzheimer’s disease in Down’s Syndrome’ study has just joined Join Dementia Research. It forms part of a PhD for Sally Jennings at the School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, with Dr Howard Ring and Professor Tony Holland supervising the study.
The study is now looking for healthy volunteers, as a control group, to see if electroencephalography (EEG) could be an effective technology for screening populations who are ‘at risk’ of developing Alzheimer’s disease. We caught up with Sally to find out more.
What are the main aims of the EEG measures of aging and Alzheimer’s disease in Down’s Syndrome study?
The primary aims of the project are:
- To benefit both Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease patient populations by using a reliable and well-validated technology (EEG) in an innovative manner;
- To investigate whether EEG has the potential to both measure the effects of aging on the brain and indicate early markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
To address these aims, we need volunteers from the general population as well as those with Down’s Syndrome.
What does it involve for a participant?
Participants will travel to the Herchel Smith Building in Cambridge for one session, which will take approximately 3 hours. Participants will be reimbursed for their travel expenses as well as receive £20 for their time.
The session begins by playing sounds and asking participants to raise their hand when they hear them. This is to test for hearing loss. We will then ask the participants to complete a handedness questionnaire. Participants will also complete two short tests of memory and problem solving.
We will then record participants’ brain activity by fitting an EEG cap on their head. The EEG cap is entirely safe and we will adjust the cap so it is as comfortable as possible. However, we use gel to get the best recording so participants will need to wash their hair afterwards. It will take about 30 minutes to ensure that the cap is fitted properly and to record the locations of all the electrodes on their head. During this time participants can read or watch a film. We will then record 10 minutes of the participant at rest and 80 minutes of them listening to various sounds. Sometimes, participants will be asked questions about the sounds they have heard. Participants will also watch a silent movie.
How long is the study for? / Is it a one-off visit?
The study is conducted in one session, lasting approximately 3 hours.
What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?
To characterise electrophysiological aspects of aging, and use the findings obtained to suggest potential, early markers of Alzheimer’s disease. This research could, in the future, help to inform preventative treatment trials.
Where is the study based?
The study is conducted at the Herchel Smith Building, which is at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.
The Medical Research Council, Health Foundation, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and Alzheimer’s Research UK – Cambridge Network fund the study.
The study is now looking for healthy volunteers as a control group to see if EEG could be an effective technology for screening at risk populations of Alzheimer’s disease. Participants should also live within 25 miles of Cambridge.
You can see if you are eligible for this study – and others around the nation by logging into your Join Dementia Research account.
Still not registered with Join Dementia Research? You can sign up today!