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January 1990

Relation of EEG Alpha Background to Cognitive Function, Brain Atrophy, and Cerebral Metabolism in Down's SyndromeAge-Specific Changes

Arch Neurol. 1990;47(1):58-62. doi:10.1001/archneur.1990.00530010072022

• We studied 19 young adults (19 to 37 years old) and 9 older patients (42 to 66 years old) with Down's syndrome (DS) and a control group of 13 healthy adults (22 to 38 years old) to investigate the relation of electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha background to cognitive function and cerebral metabolism. Four of the older patients with DS had a history of mental deterioration, disorientation, and memory loss and were demented. Patients and control subjects had EEGs, psychometric testing, quantitative computed tomography, and positron emission tomography with fludeoxyglucose F 18. A "blinded" reader classified the EEGs into two groups—those with normal alpha background or those with abnormal background. All the control subjects, the 13 young adult patients with DS, and the 5 older patients with DS had normal EEG backgrounds. In comparison with the age-matched patients with DS with normal alpha background, older patients with DS with decreased alpha background had dementia, fewer visuospatial skills, decreased attention span, larger third ventricles, and a global decrease in cerebral glucose utilization with parietal hypometabolism. In the young patients with DS, the EEG background did not correlate with psychometric or positron emission tomographic findings, but the third ventricles were significantly larger in those with abnormal EEG background. The young patients with DS, with or without normal EEG background, had positron emission tomographic findings similar to those of the control subjects. The mechanism underlying the abnormal EEG background may be the neuropathologic changes of Alzheimer's disease in older patients with DS and may be cerebral immaturity in younger patients with DS.