Sensory gating deficit expressed by a disturbed suppression of the P50 event-related potential in patients with Alzheimer's disease

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Aug;158(8):1319-21. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.8.1319.


Objective: Disturbed sensory gating has been related to attention deficit and greater distractibility in patients with schizophrenia, and dysfunction of the alpha-7 subunit of the cholinergic nicotinic receptor has been discussed as its biological basis. Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a cholinergic deficit, and postmortem studies have reported alpha-7 receptor loss in patients with Alzheimer's disease. In this study, the authors tested whether sensory gating is disturbed in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Method: Suppression of the P50 event-related potential following the second click of a double-click paradigm, a measure of sensory gating, was assessed in 17 Alzheimer's disease patients and 17 comparison subjects.

Results: Alzheimer's disease patients showed less P50 suppression following the second click relative to the comparison subjects.

Conclusions: Disturbed sensory gating might result from cholinergic dysfunction and possibly from alpha-7 nicotinic receptor loss in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Prospective studies should investigate the relationship between sensory gating deficit and behavioral disturbances in Alzheimer's disease patients.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / physiology


  • Receptors, Nicotinic