BACKGROUND: Identifying the patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who may develop dementia (MDC) is challenging. The study of peripersonal space (PPS) by using functional transcranial Doppler (fTCD) could be used for this purpose.
OBJECTIVE: To identify changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF) during motor tasks targeting PPS, which can predict MDC.
METHODS: We evaluated the changes in CBF in 22 patients with MCI and 23 with dementia [Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD)] during a motor task (passive mobilization, motor imagery, and movement observation) in which the hand of the subject moved forward and backward the face.
RESULTS: CBF increased when the hand approached the face and decreased when the hand moved from the face in the healthy controls (HCs). CBF changed were detectable only in patients with MCI but not in those with the AD and those who were MDC after 8-month follow-up. On the other hand, the patients with VaD presented a paradoxical response to the motor task (i.e., a decrease of CBF rather than an increase, as observed in HCs and MCI). Therefore, we found a modulation of PPS-related CBF only in HCs and patients with stable MCI (at the 8-month follow-up).
CONCLUSIONS: fTCD may allow preliminarily differentiating and following-up the patients with MCI and MDC, thus allowing the physician to plan beforehand more individualized cognitive rehabilitative training.