Visual dysfunctions are common in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our aim was to establish a neurophysiological biomarker for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Visual evoked potentials (VEPs) were recorded in aMCI patients who later developed AD (n=15) and in healthy older (n=15) and younger controls (n=15). Visual stimuli were optimized to separately activate lower and higher levels of the ventral and dorsal streams. We compared VEP parameters across the three groups of participants and conducted a linear correlation analysis between VEPs and data from neuropsychological tests. We then used a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis to discriminate those with aMCI from those who were healthy older adults. The latency and phase of VEPs to lower-level stimuli (chromatic and achromatic gratings) were significantly affected by age but not by cognitive decline. Conversely, VEP latencies for higher-ventral (faces and kanji-words) and dorsal (kana-words and optic flow motion) stimuli were not affected by age, but they were significantly prolonged in aMCI patients. Interestingly, VEPs for higher-dorsal stimuli were related to outcomes of neuropsychological tests. Furthermore, the ROC analysis showed that the highest areas under the curve were obtained for VEP latencies in response to higher-dorsal stimuli. These results suggest aMCI-related functional impairment specific to higher-level visual processing. Further, dysfunction in the higher-level of the dorsal stream could be an early indicator of cognitive decline. Therefore, we conclude that VEPs associated with higher-level dorsal stream activity can be a sensitive biomarker for early detection of aMCI.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health