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Sensory cortical interactions in aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease


Progressive declines in memory function accompany normal aging, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Neuropathological studies suggest that damage to neurons providing connections between cortical areas may contribute to memory impairments in AD. Because AD develops slowly, similar neuropathological changes, to a lesser degree, may be present in MCI and some asymptomatic elderly subjects. In this study we tested the hypothesis that corticocortical interactions between sensory regions are impaired in aging, MCI, and AD, as compared with young subjects. When sensory cortical evoked potentials are elicited by pairs of stimuli the amplitudes of potentials to the second stimulus are attenuated. Corticocortical interactions were assessed by presenting stimulus pairs in different modalities (auditory/visual). There were significant group differences in the degree that a visual stimulus attenuated subsequent auditory potentials (young > healthy elderly > MCI > AD). Control experiments indicated equivalent amplitude reductions for all groups to the second stimulus for stimulus pairs having the same modality. These findings are compatible with progressive declines in corticocortical processing in aging, MCI, and AD.

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