In a recent magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we found posterior-to-anterior information flow over the cortex in higher frequency bands in healthy subjects, with a reversed pattern in the theta band. A disruption of information flow may underlie clinical symptoms in Alzheimer's disease (AD). In AD, highly connected regions (hubs) in posterior areas are mostly disrupted. We therefore hypothesized that in AD the information flow from these hub regions would be disturbed. We used resting-state MEG recordings from 27 early-onset AD patients and 26 healthy controls. Using beamformer-based virtual electrodes, we estimated neuronal oscillatory activity for 78 cortical regions of interest (ROIs) and 12 subcortical ROIs of the AAL atlas, and calculated the directed phase transfer entropy (dPTE) as a measure of information flow between these ROIs. Group differences were evaluated using permutation tests and, for the AD group, associations between dPTE and general cognition or CSF biomarkers were determined using Spearman correlation coefficients. We confirmed the previously reported posterior-to-anterior information flow in the higher frequency bands in the healthy controls, and found it to be disturbed in the beta band in AD. Most prominently, the information flow from the precuneus and the visual cortex, towards frontal and subcortical structures, was decreased in AD. These disruptions did not correlate with cognitive impairment or CSF biomarkers. We conclude that AD pathology may affect the flow of information between brain regions, particularly from posterior hub regions, and that changes in the information flow in the beta band indicate an aspect of the pathophysiological process in AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Atlas-based beamforming; Information flow; Magnetoencephalography; Phase transfer entropy.