The Cognitive Electrophysiology and Neuroimaging (CEAN) laboratory of John Olichney, M.D. (Professor of Neurology, UC Davis School of Medicine) in the Center for Mind and Brain is developing electrophysiological and neuroimaging techniques sensitive to the memory and language impairments characteristic of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The techniques his laboratory uses to study the physiology of memory processes include Cognitive Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Cognitive ERPs, comprised of summated synaptic electrical potentials, are a powerful tool for investigating the timing of cognitive processes. Functional MRI demonstrates the precise anatomical substrates of cognition, by mapping the regional changes in brain oxygenation. We have been applying these techniques to further our understanding of the memory decline seen with aging, neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) and other neurological disorders (e.g. alcoholic Korsakoff’s syndrome). Physiological markers of memory and language dysfunction may help advance our ability to predict which patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment will progress to develop clinical Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (Olichney, et al., JNNP, 2002).