Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the progressive death of brain cells over time. It represents the most frequent cause of dementia in the western world, and affects an individual’s cognitive ability and psychological capacity. While clinical diagnoses of AD are made primarily on the basis of clinical evaluation and mental health tests, diagnostic certainty is only possible through necropsy. One non-invasive approach to investigating AD is to use electroencephalograms (EEGs), which reflect brain electrical activity and
so can be used to detect electrical abnormalities in brain signals with non-invasive cranial surface electrodes.
Generally EEGs in AD patients show a shift to lower frequencies in spectral analysis and display less complexity and contain more regular patterns compared to those of control subjects.
Here we present a method for differentiating AD patients from healthy ones based on their EEG signals using Benford’s law and support vector machines (SVMs) with a radial basis function (RBF) kernel. EEG signals from eleven AD and eleven age-matched controls were divided into artefact-free 5-sec epochs and used to train an SVM. 10 fold cross validation was performed at both the epoch and subject-level to evaluate the importance of each electrode in discriminating between AD and healthy subjects. Substantive variability was seen across the different electrodes, with electrodes O1, O2 and C4 particularly being important. Performance across the electrodes was reduced when subject-level cross validation was performed, but relative performance across the electrodes was consistent with that found using epoch-level cross validation.