Quantitative EEG in progressing vs stable mild cognitive impairment (MCI): results of a 1-year follow-up study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Nov;23(11):1148-55. doi: 10.1002/gps.2042.


Objective: The study objective is to evaluate the use of qEEG data for the cross-sectional differentiation of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) and in the longitudinal prediction of cognitive decline in MCI.

Methods: Eighty-eight subjects with MCI and 42 subjects with mild probable AD were enrolled. Baseline EEGs were recorded using a 32-channel system with electrode positioning according to the international 10-20 system. Digitalized EEG data were further studied by quantitative spectral analysis. Study subjects were followed up for 1 year and reassessed psychometrically. An increase of the total ADAS-cog score of >or= 4 points was regarded as a significant cognitive decline. Using this cut-off, MCI subjects were sub-grouped into stable MCI (s-MCI) and progressing MCI (p-MCI).

Results: AD subjects and p-MCI subjects were differentiated from s-MCI subjects by a reduction of alpha power over posterior leads. Reduction of alpha power and mean frequency were significantly correlated with poorer cognitive performance in psychometric tests. Baseline values of alpha power over posterior leads had the highest positive predictive power for MCI and AD (69-80%) and predicted cognitive decline in MCI within a 1-year follow up.

Conclusions: qEEG revealed decreased alpha activity in progressing MCI and mild AD prior to an increase of slow wave activity, which typically occurs in advancing AD. This finding may reflect an affection of thalamo-cortical relay activity and cortical connectivity in the early disease course of AD. Reduced alpha activity in MCI subjects at baseline may have prognostic value regarding future cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Biomarkers
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Biomarkers