Alzheimer's Disease with Epileptiform EEG Activity: Abnormal Cortical Sources of Resting State Delta Rhythms in Patients with Amnesic Mild Cognitive Impairment

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;88(3):903-931. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220442.


Background: Patients with amnesic mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease (ADMCI) typically show a "slowing" of cortical resting-state eyes-closed electroencephalographic (rsEEG) rhythms. Some of them also show subclinical, non-convulsive, and epileptiform EEG activity (EEA) with an unclear relationship with that "slowing."

Objective: Here we tested the hypothesis that the "slowing" of rsEEG rhythms is related to EEA in ADMCI patients.

Methods: Clinical and instrumental datasets in 62 ADMCI patients and 38 normal elderly (Nold) subjects were available in a national archive. No participant had received a clinical diagnosis of epilepsy. The eLORETA freeware estimated rsEEG cortical sources. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROCC) indexed the accuracy of eLORETA solutions in the classification between ADMCI-EEA and ADMCI-noEEA individuals.

Results: EEA was observed in 15% (N = 8) of the ADMCI patients. The ADMCI-EEA group showed: 1) more abnormal Aβ42 levels in the cerebrospinal fluid as compared to the ADMCI-noEEA group and 2) higher temporal and occipital delta (<4 Hz) rsEEG source activities as compared to the ADMCI-noEEA and Nold groups. Those source activities showed moderate accuracy (AUROCC = 0.70-0.75) in the discrimination between ADMCI-noEEA versus ADMCI-EEA individuals.

Conclusion: It can be speculated that in ADMCI-EEA patients, AD-related amyloid neuropathology may be related to an over-excitation in neurophysiological low-frequency (delta) oscillatory mechanisms underpinning cortical arousal and quiet vigilance.

Keywords: Epileptiform EEG activity; 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
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Delta Rhythm
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Rest / physiology