Short-term effects of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment on EEG and memory performance in Alzheimer patients: an open, controlled trial

Pharmacopsychiatry. 2003 Nov;36(6):304-8. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-45118.


Introduction: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment enhances cholinergic neurotransmission and may thus partially reverse EEG slowing and memory impairment in Alzheimer patients within short time.

Methods: We studied the short-term effects of treatment with either rivastigmine or donepezil on EEG and memory performance in a group of 35 Alzheimer patients in an open, controlled design.

Results: Under a 1- or 2-week acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment, a decrease of global theta power and an improvement in the ADAS memory score were observed. However, compared to the control condition, only the theta power decrease remained significant and can be definitely considered a medication effect.

Discussion: EEG spectral analysis could be shown to rapidly reflect the cerebral cholinergic action of short-term acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment. Whether this action is related to the therapeutic efficacy of this type of drug must be determined in further longitudinal studies.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Carbamates / therapeutic use*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Donepezil
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indans / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Phenylcarbamates*
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Rivastigmine
  • Theta Rhythm / drug effects
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Carbamates
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Indans
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Phenylcarbamates
  • Piperidines
  • Donepezil
  • Rivastigmine