Impairments have been reported both in sleep structure and episodic memory in Alzheimer's disease [AD]. Our objective was to investigate the relationships between episodic memory deficits and electro-encephalography [EEG] abnormalities occurring during sleep in patients with early AD. Postlearning sleep was recorded in 14 patients with mild to moderate AD, and 14 healthy elderly controls after they performed an episodic memory task derived from the Grober and Buschke's procedure. For each sleep stage, the relative power and mean frequency in each band were analyzed. Relative to agematched controls, AD patients presented faster mean theta frequency in both REM sleep and slow wave sleep [SWS]. In AD patients, a correlative analysis revealed that faster theta frequency during SWS was associated with better delayed episodic recall. We assume that increased theta activity reflects changes in neuronal activity to maintain memory performance, indicating that compensatory mechanisms already described at the waking state could also be engaged during SWS.
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