White-matter vascular lesions correlate with alpha EEG sources in mild cognitive impairment.Neuropsychologia. 2008; 46(6):1707-20.N
It is an open issue if vascular and Alzheimer's disease (AD) lesions represent additive factors in the development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as a preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD) at group level. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha rhythms, which are affected (i.e. decreased in amplitude) by AD processes, are relatively preserved in MCI subjects in whom the cognitive decline is mainly explained by white-matter vascular load. Resting EEG was recorded in 40 healthy elderly (Nold), 80 MCI, and 40 AD subjects. In the MCI subjects, white-matter vascular load was quantified based on MRI (0-30 Wahlund visual rating scale). EEG rhythms of interest were delta (2-4Hz), theta (4-8Hz), alpha 1 (8-10.5Hz), alpha 2 (10.5-13Hz), beta 1 (13-20Hz), and beta 2 (20-30Hz). Low resolution electromagnetic source tomography (LORETA) was used for EEG source analysis. As expected, we observed that alpha 1 sources in parietal, occipital, and temporal areas were lower in amplitude in the AD and MCI subjects than in the Nold subjects, whereas the amplitude of wide delta sources was higher in the AD than in the Nold and MCI subjects. As novel results, the amplitude of parietal, occipital, and temporal alpha 1 sources was higher in the MCI V+ (high vascular load; N=42; MMSE=26) than MCI V- group (low vascular load; N=37; MMSE=26.7). Furthermore, a weak but significant (p<0.05) positive statistical correlation was found between the parietal alpha 1 sources and the score of Wahlund scale across all MCI subjects (i.e. the more severe white-matter lesions, the higher parietal alpha source power). The present results are in line with the additive model of cognitive impairment postulating that this arises as the sum of neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular lesions.