The diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), that is, the transitory phase between normal age-related cognitive decline and dementia, remains a challenging task. It was observed that a multimodal approach (simultaneous analysis of several complementary modalities) can improve the classification accuracy. We will combine three noninvasive measurement modalities: functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), electroencephalography and heart rate variability via ECG. Our aim is to explore neurophysiological correlates of cognitive performance and whether our multimodal approach can aid in early identification of individuals with MCI.
This study will be a cross-sectional with patients with MCI and healthy controls (HC). The neurophysiological signals will be measured during rest and while performing cognitive tasks: (1) Stroop, (2) N-back and (3) verbal fluency test (VFT). Main aims of statistical analysis are to (1) determine the differences in neurophysiological responses of HC and MCI, (2) investigate relationships between measures of cognitive performance and neurophysiological responses and (3) investigate whether the classification accuracy can be improved by using our multimodal approach. To meet these targets, statistical analysis will include machine learning approaches.This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study that applies simultaneously these three modalities in MCI and HC. We hypothesise that the multimodal approach improves the classification accuracy between HC and MCI as compared with a unimodal approach. If our hypothesis is verified, this study paves the way for additional research on multimodal approaches for dementia research and fosters the exploration of new biomarkers for an early detection of nonphysiological age-related cognitive decline.
Ethics approval was obtained from the local Ethics Committee (reference: 83/19). Data will be shared with the scientific community no more than 1 year following completion of study and data assembly., NCT04427436, registered on 10 June 2020,

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