Subconscious Changes May predict Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's disease poses a significant threat to quality of life, and while a definitive cure remains elusive, researchers are actively seeking ways to mitigate its symptoms and explore preventive measures. A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)-led research team, sheds light on the potential role of exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease through the production of a hormone called irisin.

Subconscious changes that occur in humans, which are not visible to the naked eye, can determine Alzheimer’s disease, a new study found.

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Massachusetts General Hospital and Washington University at St. Louis led the study. They analysed the complex fluctuations known as Fractal Motor Activity Regulation (FMAR). The FMAR was tested in healthy adults who were also tested for biomarkers of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

The researchers found FMAR’s association with preclinical AD pathology in women. Thus, they claimed FMAR as a new biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease before cognitive symptoms begin. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring published the findings.


Co- First author Lei Gao claimed that the day-to-day movements that are subconscious could reveal changes in the brain that may occur many years before symptoms show. He is assistant professor of Anesthesiology at MGH, and clinical director of the Medical Biodynamics Program in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at the Brigham. He opined that if this was validated in future studies, it could provide a window of opportunity for early treatments.

The researchers studied 178 cognitively normal adults from the Washington University Knight Alzheimer’s disease Research Center. All of them underwent seven to 14 days of home actigraphy. Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) PET amyloid imaging was performed in 150 of the participants and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was obtained in 149 of them.


They found that degradation of Fractal Motor Activity Regulation was much associated with both markers of preclinical Alzheimer’s. When they compared men and women, the researchers found relationship remained significant among women but not men.

Gao opined that Fractal Motor Activity Regulation represented a non-invasive biomarker for testing and screening for Alzheimer’s. As the participants were relatively homogenous, the researchers say they could not fully consider race or ethnicity in their analyses.

Co-senior author Kun Hu pointed out that the findings could guide research on Alzheimer’s and allow to shift from focusing solely on cognition to improving motor functions that may link the disease to other disorders, including sleep/circadian disorders. He is director of the Brigham’s Medical Biodynamics Program and a physiologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology at the Brigham.



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