Alpha desynchronization during simple working memory unmasks pathological aging in cognitively healthy individuals

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Our aim is to explore if cognitive challenge combined with objective physiology can reveal abnormal frontal alpha event-related desynchronization (ERD), in early Alzheimer's disease (AD). We used quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) to investigate brain activities during N-back working memory (WM) processing at two different load conditions (N = 0 or 2) in an aging cohort. We studied 60-100 year old participants, with normal cognition, and who fits one of two subgroups from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) proteins: cognitively healthy (CH) with normal amyloid/tau ratio (CH-NAT, n = 10) or pathological amyloid/tau ratio (CH-PAT, n = 14). We recorded behavioral performances, and analyzed alpha power and alpha spectral entropy (SE) at three occasions: during the resting state, and at event-related desynchronization (ERD) [250 ~ 750 ms] during 0-back and 2-back. During 0-back WM testing, the behavioral performance was similar between the two groups, however, qEEG notably differentiated CH-PATs from CH-NATs on the simple, 0-back testing: Alpha ERD decreased from baseline only in the parietal region in CH-NATs, while it decreased in all brain regions in CH-PATs. Alpha SE did not change in CH-NATs, but was increased from baseline in the CH-PATs in frontal and left lateral regions (p<0.01), and was higher in the frontal region (p<0.01) of CH-PATs compared to CH-NATs. The alpha ERD and SE analyses suggest there is frontal lobe dysfunction during WM processing in the CH-PAT stage. Additional power and correlations with behavioral performance were also explored. This study provide pilot information to further evaluate whether this biomarker has clinical significance.

Medical Subject Headings

Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Aging (pathology); Amyloid beta-Peptides (metabolism); Behavior; Cognition (physiology); Cortical Synchronization (physiology); Electroencephalography; Entropy; Evoked Potentials (physiology); Female; Humans; Male; Memory, Short-Term (physiology); Reaction Time (physiology); Time Factors; tau Proteins (metabolism)

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PloS one







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