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Cholinesterase inhibitors affect brain potentials in amnestic mild cognitive impairment


Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an isolated episodic memory disorder that has a high likelihood of progressing to Alzheimer's disease. Auditory sensory cortical responses (P50, N100) have been shown to be increased in amplitude in MCI compared to older controls. We tested whether (1) cortical potentials to other sensory modalities (somatosensory and visual) were also affected in MCI and (2) cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEIs), one of the therapies used in this disorder, modulated sensory cortical potentials in MCI. Somatosensory cortical potentials to median nerve stimulation and visual cortical potentials to reversing checkerboard stimulation were recorded from 15 older controls and 15 amnestic MCI subjects (single domain). Results were analyzed as a function of diagnosis (Control, MCI) and ChEIs treatment (Treated MCI, Untreated MCI). Somatosensory and visual potentials did not differ significantly in amplitude in MCI subjects compared to controls. When ChEIs use was considered, somatosensory potentials (N20, P50) but not visual potentials (N70, P100, N150) were of larger amplitude in untreated MCI subjects compared to treated MCI subjects. Three individual MCI subjects showed increased N20 amplitude while off ChEIs compared to while on ChEIs. An enhancement of N20 somatosensory cortical activity occurs in amnestic single-domain MCI and is sensitive to modulation by ChEIs.

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