The use of magnetoencephalography to study neurophysiologic abnormalities associated with Alzheimer's disease is reviewed. The most consistent observation is that Alzheimer's disease patients exhibit an increase in focal slow-wave activity that covaried with cognitive performance. It is still unclear whether generation of focal slow-wave activity precedes or is a consequence of Alzheimer's disease-related neuropathology. Also reviewed is the use of magnetoencephalography to identify early functional changes preceding the diagnosis of dementia. Magnetoencephalography detected neurophysiologic abnormalities associated with cognitive deficits before the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. This is supported by evidence presented suggesting that some patients with subjective cognitive complaints, without evidence of dementia, show an increase in focal slow-wave generators. Further research is needed to determine whether the outstanding spatial and temporal resolution of the magnetoencephalography technique could complement other neuroimaging techniques in identifying neurophysiologic abnormalities preceding the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment.
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