Early Brain Activity Patterns Can Predict Cognitive Deficits in Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s, Study Shows

Early Brain Activity Patterns Can Predict Cognitive Deficits in Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s, Study Shows
Certain patterns of brain activity can predict early on the probability of cognitive decline in young mice at high genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a study has found. The findings, "Early Hippocampal Sharp-Wave Ripple Deficits Predict Later Learning and Memory Impairments in an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model," were published in the journal Cell Reports. Although genetic and environmental risk factors for Alzheimer’s are known, scientists are still searching for ways to predict those who will develop the disease, when symptoms will arise, and how rapidly they will progress. "There is therefore a pressing need to identify early pathophysiological alterations that can distinguish later cognitive decline from healthy aging," the researchers wrote. In a previous study, researchers studied patterns of brain activity, known as sharp-wave ripples (SWRs), to identify minor alterations that could be associated with future memory impairments in mice. SWRs originate in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in spatial learning and short-term memory, and can be thought of as an “instant replay” of a recent memory (e.g. a person moving through a house, or a mouse moving in a maze previously visited). The team used genetically engineered mice carrying the human apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) gene, a well-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. As they age, these mice often develop memory problems. As a control for their experiments, the researchers used mice carrying the more common apolipoprotein E3 variant (ApoE3), which does not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. Findings revealed that mice carrying the ApoE4 gene had lower SWR abundance and weaker short-gamma (SG) power than healthy mice, suggesting that these particular patterns of brain
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