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Altered temporal correlations in parietal alpha and prefrontal theta oscillations in early-stage Alzheimer disease

Montez, T., Poil, S.-S., Jones, B., Manshanden, I., Verbunt, J.P.A., Van Dijk, B. W., Brussaard, A. B., Van Ooyen, A., Stam, C. J., Scheltens, P., and Linkenkaer-Hansen, K. (2009). PNAS 106: 1614-1619. [Full text: PDF]


Encoding and retention of information in memory are associated with a sustained increase in the amplitude of neuronal oscillations for up to several seconds. We reasoned that coordination of oscillatory activity over time might be important for memory and, therefore, that the amplitude modulation of oscillations may be abnormal in Alzheimer disease (AD).

To test this hypothesis, we measured magnetoencephalography (MEG) during eyes-closed rest in 19 patients diagnosed with early-stage AD and 16 agematched control subjects and characterized the autocorrelation structure of ongoing oscillations using detrended fluctuation analysis and an analysis of the life- and waiting-time statistics of oscillation bursts.

We found that Alzheimer’s patients had a strongly reduced incidence of alpha-band oscillation bursts with long life- or waiting-times (< 1 s) over temporo-parietal regions and markedly weaker autocorrelations on long time scales (1–25 seconds). Interestingly, the life- and waiting-times of theta oscillations over medial prefrontal regions were greatly increased. Whereas both temporo-parietal alpha and medial prefrontal theta oscillations are associated with retrieval and retention of information, metabolic and structural deficits in early-stage AD are observed primarily in temporo-parietal areas, suggesting that the enhanced oscillations in medial prefrontal cortex reflect a compensatory mechanism.

Together, our results suggest that amplitude modulation of neuronal oscillations is important for cognition and that indices of amplitude dynamics of oscillations may prove useful as neuroimaging biomarkers of early-stage AD.

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