Electroencephalogram slowing predicts neurodegeneration in rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder

Neurobiol Aging. 2016 Jan;37:74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.10.007. Epub 2015 Oct 23.


A large proportion of patients with idiopathic rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (iRBD) develop a synucleinopathy, mostly Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple system atrophy. Therefore, identifying markers of neurodegeneration in iRBD could have major implications. We aimed to assess the usefulness of electroencephalography (EEG) spectral analysis performed during wakefulness for predicting the development of a neurodegenerative disease in iRBD. Fifty-four iRBD patients, 28 of whom developed Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy, or dementia with Lewy bodies (mean follow-up: 3.5 years), and 30 healthy controls underwent at baseline a resting-state waking EEG recording, neurological exam, and neuropsychological assessment. Absolute and relative spectral powers were analyzed for 5 frequency bands in frontal, central, parietal, temporal, and occipital regions. The slow-to-fast [(δ + θ)/(β1 + β2)] power ratio for each of the 5 cortical regions and the dominant occipital frequency were calculated as an index of cortical slowing. Patients who developed disease showed higher absolute delta and theta power in all 5 cortical regions compared to disease-free patients and controls. The slow-to-fast power ratio was higher in all regions in patients who developed disease than in the 2 other groups. Moreover, patients who developed disease had a slower dominant occipital frequency compared to controls. The only significant difference observed between disease-free iRBD patients and controls was higher absolute delta power in frontal and occipital regions in iRBD patients. Specific EEG abnormalities were identified during wakefulness in iRBD patients who later developed a synucleinopathy. EEG slowing is a promising marker of neurodegeneration in iRBD patients.

Keywords: Dementia with Lewy bodies; Parkinson's disease; REM sleep behavior disorder; REM sleep without atonia; quantitative EEG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Delta Rhythm
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Body Disease / diagnosis
  • Lewy Body Disease / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests*
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder / complications*
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Wakefulness / physiology