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Eye movement analysis and cognitive processing: detecting indicators of conversion to Alzheimer’s disease

Authors Pereira ML, Camargo MVZA, Aprahamian I, Forlenza OV

Received 4 October 2013

Accepted for publication 19 March 2014

Published 9 July 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 1273—1285

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S55371

Checked for plagiarism Yes

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Peer reviewer comments 4

Marta LG Freitas Pereira, Marina von Zuben A Camargo, Ivan Aprahamian, Orestes V Forlenza

Laboratory of Neuroscience (LIM-27), Department and Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Abstract: A great amount of research has been developed around the early cognitive ­impairments that best predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Given that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is no longer considered to be an intermediate state between normal aging and AD, new paths have been traced to acquire further knowledge about this condition and its subtypes, and to determine which of them have a higher risk of conversion to AD. It is now known that other deficits besides episodic and semantic memory impairments may be present in the early stages of AD, such as visuospatial and executive function deficits. Furthermore, recent investigations have proven that the hippocampus and the medial temporal lobe structures are not only involved in memory functioning, but also in visual processes. These early changes in memory, visual, and executive processes may also be detected with the study of eye movement patterns in pathological conditions like MCI and AD. In the present review, we attempt to explore the existing literature concerning these patterns of oculomotor changes and how these changes are related to the early signs of AD. In particular, we argue that deficits in visual short-term memory, specifically in iconic memory, attention processes, and inhibitory control, may be found through the analysis of eye movement patterns, and we discuss how they might help to predict the progression from MCI to AD. We add that the study of eye movement patterns in these conditions, in combination with neuroimaging techniques and appropriate neuropsychological tasks based on rigorous concepts derived from cognitive psychology, may highlight the early presence of cognitive impairments in the course of the disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, eye movement patterns, visuospatial abilities, visual memory, executive functions

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