Event-related potentials elicited during working memory are altered in mild cognitive impairment

Int J Psychophysiol. 2016 Nov;109:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.09.012. Epub 2016 Sep 24.


Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) can experience deficits in working memory. In the present study, we investigated working memory in persons with MCI and cognitively healthy older adults using event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants performed an n-back working memory task with baseline (0-back), low load (1-back), and high load (2-back) working memory conditions. MCI participants' performance was less accurate than that of healthy older adults in both the 1-back and 2-back conditions, and reaction times were longer in MCI than control participants in the 0-back, 1-back and 2-back conditions. ERP analyses revealed delayed P200 and N200 latencies and smaller P300 amplitudes in MCI relative to control participants in the 0-back, 1-back and 2-back conditions. Deterioration in working memory performance concomitant with marked electrophysiological alterations suggests that persons with MCI exhibit deficits in several cognitive processes that include early attention, stimulus discrimination and classification, and updating and manipulation of information held in working memory.

Keywords: Event-related potentials; Mild cognitive impairment; N-back; Working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*