As people go about their daily activities, complex fluctuations in their movement occur without conscious thought.
These fluctuations—known as fractal motor activity regulation (FMAR)—and their changes are not readily detectable to the naked eye, but FMAR patterns can be recorded using a wristwatch-like device known as an actigraph.
In a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers analyzed FMAR patterns in cognitively healthy adults who were also tested for established biomarkers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology.
They found that FMAR was linked to preclinical AD pathology in women, suggesting that FMAR may be a new biomarker for AD before cognitive symptoms begin.
This study showed that day-to-day movements that are subconscious can reveal changes in the brain that may occur many years before symptoms show.
This may provide a window of opportunity for early treatments and motivate the modification of existing risk factors.
In the study, the team assessed 178 cognitively normal adults. All participants underwent 7 to 14 days of home actigraphy.
The team found that degradation of FMAR was strongly linked to both markers of preclinical AD.
When the researchers looked at differences between men and women, they found the link remained significant among women but not men.
The team says FMAR represents a non-invasive biomarker for testing and screening for AD
This kind of approach could potentially guide research on AD and allow researchers to shift from focusing solely on cognition to improving motor functions that may link AD to other disorders, including sleep/circadian disorders.
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The study is published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. One author of the study is Lei Gao, MD.
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