Resting State Alpha Electroencephalographic Rhythms Are Differently Related to Aging in Cognitively Unimpaired Seniors and Patients with Alzheimer's Disease and Amnesic Mild Cognitive Impairment

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;82(3):1085-1114. doi: 10.3233/JAD-201271.


Background: In relaxed adults, staying in quiet wakefulness at eyes closed is related to the so-called resting state electroencephalographic (rsEEG) rhythms, showing the highest amplitude in posterior areas at alpha frequencies (8-13 Hz).

Objective: Here we tested the hypothesis that age may affect rsEEG alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms recorded in normal elderly (Nold) seniors and patients with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease (ADMCI).

Methods: Clinical and rsEEG datasets in 63 ADMCI and 60 Nold individuals (matched for demography, education, and gender) were taken from an international archive. The rsEEG rhythms were investigated at individual delta, theta, and alpha frequency bands, as well as fixed beta (14-30 Hz) and gamma (30-40 Hz) bands. Each group was stratified into three subgroups based on age ranges (i.e., tertiles).

Results: As compared to the younger Nold subgroups, the older one showed greater reductions in the rsEEG alpha rhythms with major topographical effects in posterior regions. On the contrary, in relation to the younger ADMCI subgroups, the older one displayed a lesser reduction in those rhythms. Notably, the ADMCI subgroups pointed to similar cerebrospinal fluid AD diagnostic biomarkers, gray and white matter brain lesions revealed by neuroimaging, and clinical and neuropsychological scores.

Conclusion: The present results suggest that age may represent a deranging factor for dominant rsEEG alpha rhythms in Nold seniors, while rsEEG alpha rhythms in ADMCI patients may be more affected by the disease variants related to earlier versus later onset of the AD.

Keywords: Aging; exact Low-resolution brain electromagnetic source tomography; mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease; resting state electroencephalographic rhythms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Amnesia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Amnesia / physiopathology
  • Amnesia / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rest / physiology
  • Rest / psychology