Reduced ERPs and theta oscillations underlie working memory deficits in Toxoplasma gondii infected seniors.
Biol Psychol. 2016 Oct ;120:35-45. Epub 2016 Aug 8. PMID: 27516127
Patrick D Gajewski
Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most widespread infections in humans. Recent studies give evidence for memory deficits in infected older adults. To investigate working memory dysfunction in infected elderly, a double-blinded electrophysiological study was conducted. 84 persons derived from a sample of 131 healthy participants with the mean age of 70 years were assigned to two groups of 42 non-infected and 42 infected individuals. The outcome measures were behavioral performance, target and response-related ERPs, and time-frequency wavelets during performance in a n-back working-memory task. The infected individuals showed a reduced rate of detected targets and diminished P3b amplitude both in target-locked as well as response-locked data compared to the non-infected group. Time-frequency decomposition of the EEG-signals revealed lower evoked power in the theta frequency range in the target-locked as well as in the response-locked data in infected individuals. The reported effects were comparable with differences between healthy young and old adults described previously. Taking together, the reduced working-memory performance accompanied by an attenuated P3b and frontal theta activity may suggest neurotransmitter imbalance like dopamine and norepinephrine in T. gondii infected individuals. In face of a high prevalence of T. gondii infection and the increasing ratio of older population their accelerated memory decline may have substantial socioeconomic consequences.