Scientific reports

Alpha band disruption in the AD-continuum starts in the Subjective Cognitive Decline stage: a MEG study.

PMID 27883082


The consideration of Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) as a preclinical stage of AD remains still a matter of debate. Alpha band alterations represent one of the most significant changes in the electrophysiological profile of AD. In particular, AD patients exhibit reduced alpha relative power and frequency. We used alpha band activity measured with MEG to study whether SCD and MCI elders present these electrophysiological changes characteristic of AD, and to determine the evolution of the observed alterations across AD spectrum. The total sample consisted of 131 participants: 39 elders without SCD, 41 elders with SCD and 51 MCI patients. All of them underwent MEG and MRI scans and neuropsychological assessment. SCD and MCI patients exhibited a similar reduction in alpha band activity compared with the no SCD group. However, only MCI patients showed a slowing in their alpha peak frequency compared with both SCD and no SCD. These changes in alpha band were related to worse cognition. Our results suggest that AD-related alterations may start in the SCD stage, with a reduction in alpha relative power. It is later, in the MCI stage, where the slowing of the spectral profile takes place, giving rise to objective deficits in cognitive functioning.