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Effects of stimulus sequence on event-related potentials and reaction time during target detection in Alzheimer's disease



To examine evoked potentials and behavior as a function of stimulus sequence in an auditory target detection paradigm in Alzheimer's disease (AD).


Evoked potentials and reaction times were collected from 12 healthy elderly controls and 10 patients with mild AD. Subjects pressed a response button to high-pitched target tones (P=0.20) that were randomly intermixed with low-pitched frequent tones. We measured pre-stimulus readiness potential (RP), event-related potentials (P50, N100, P200, N200 and P300), and reaction time as a function of the stimulus sequence.


AD subjects performed at comparable levels of accuracy as controls, but had significantly increased reaction times. Grand averaged potentials in AD showed a significant reduction of the amplitude of the RP, and an increase of P300 latency. Both controls and AD showed speeding of reaction time, increases in RP amplitude, and decreases in P300 latency as a function of the number of frequents preceding the target. Sequential changes of other components (P200 and N200) were found in controls but not AD.


AD patients have systematic changes of both RT and certain of the evoked potential components as a function of stimulus sequence. Moment-by-moment changes in target expectancy are largely preserved in AD, even though overall performance and evoked potential measures of expectancy (RP) and stimulus classification (P300 latency) are abnormal.

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