Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathological changes may begin up to decades earlier than the appearance of the first symptoms of cognitive decline. Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) could be the first pre-clinical sign of possible AD, which might be followed by mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the initial stage of clinical cognitive decline. However, the neural correlates of these prodromic stages are not completely clear yet. Recent studies suggest that EEG analysis tools characterizing the cortical activity as a whole, such as microstates and cortical regions connectivity, might support a characterization of SCD and MCI conditions. Here we test this approach by performing a broad set of analyses to identify the prominent EEG markers differentiating SCD (n = 57), MCI (n = 46) and healthy control subjects (HC, n = 19). We found that the salient differences were in the temporal structure of the microstates patterns, with MCI being associated with less complex sequences due to the altered transition probability, frequency and duration of canonic microstate C. Spectral content of EEG, network connectivity, and spatial arrangement of microstates were instead largely similar in the three groups. Interestingly, comparing properties of EEG microstates in different cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers profiles, we found that canonic microstate C displayed significant differences in topography in AD-like profile. These results show that the progression of dementia might be associated with a degradation of the cortical organization captured by microstates analysis, and that this leads to altered transitions between cortical states. Overall, our approach paves the way for the use of non-invasive EEG recordings in the identification of possible biomarkers of progression to AD from its prodromal states.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease; EEG; Microstates; Mild cognitive impairment; Subjective cognitive decline.
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