Individual differences in auditory middle latency responses in elderly adults and patients with Alzheimer's disease1A preliminary report of these data was presented at the Tenth International Conference on Event-Related Potentials of the Brain (EPIC X), in Eger, Hungary, June, 1992. This work was supported by the Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation of Canada (N.A.P.) and grants from the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation and the Dalhousie University Department of Psychiatry (J.F.C.). The first author was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) Graduate Fellowship.1
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Previous research has suggested that the Pb component of the middle-latency auditory evoked response (MLAER) is differentially abnormal in patients with Alzheimer's disease relative to control subjects. In the present study, this putative abnormality was examined in vertex-recorded MLAERs elicited by monaural stimulation in 14 patients with Alzheimer's disease (six females) and 22 age-matched control subjects (10 females). A sex difference in Pb elicitation was revealed in control subjects; Pb area was twice as large in females than males (P < 0.05). Pb and Pa amplitudes and latencies did not differ between male and female control subjects. Comparisons of Pb between patients and controls were conducted within each sex. There was no main effect of group on Pb area, amplitude, or latency, Pa amplitude was significantly larger in patients than control subjects; there was no group difference in Pa latency. This study did not replicate previous reports of differences in Pb between patients with Alzheimer's disease and elderly control subjects. We demonstrated that Pb elicitation may be unreliable in elderly control subjects and found evidence of a possible sex difference. The effects of inter-subject variables (e.g. age, sex) must be understood more fully before MLAERs can be exploited as meaningful markers of brain dysfunction.
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