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Front Psychiatry. 2011 Jan 4;1:152. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2010.00152. eCollection 2011.

Anatomical Substrate and Scalp EEG Markers are Correlated in Subjects with Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease.

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Istituto Di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico S. Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli Brescia, Italy.


Dementia is a syndromic diagnosis, encompassing various stage of severity and different anatomo-physiological substrates. The hippocampus is one of the first and most affected brain regions affected by both Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Moreover, chronic cerebrovascular disease (CVD) is one of the major risk factor for developing dementia. Recent studies have demonstrated different relationship between the anatomical substrate and scalp electroencephalography (EEG) markers. Indeed, modifications of EEG rhythmicity is not proportional to the hippocampal atrophy, whereas changes in EEG activity are directly proportional to the load of subcortical CVD. The computation of the EEG spectral power and the analysis of the functional coupling of brain areas, through linear coherence, are two of the most known processing methods in EEG research. Two specific EEG markers, theta/gamma and alpha3/alpha2 frequency ratio have been reliable associated to the atrophy of amygdalo-hippocampal complex. Moreover, theta/gamma ratio has been related to MCI conversion in dementia and alpha3/alpha2 ratio has been specifically related to MCI conversion in AD. The functional coupling of brain areas is also modulated by hippocampal atrophy. In the MCI subjects, hippocampal atrophy is linked to an increase of interhemispheric coherence seen on frontal and temporal regions whereas subcortical CVD is linked to a decrease of coherence in fronto-parietal regions. In the present study the most significant results of recent studies on correlation between scalp EEG, cognitive decline, and anatomical substrate have been reviewed, with particular attention to the relationships between EEG changes and hippocampal atrophy. The following review is not intended to provide a comprehensive summary of the literature. Rather it identifies and discusses selected studies that are designed to find the specific correlation between scalp EEG markers and anatomo-pathological substrate. The principal aim is to propose a plausible neurophysiological theoretical model of the cognitive decline as mirrored by both structural and functional tools of research.


Alzheimer's disease; EEG markers; alpha rhythm; mild cognitive impairment; theta rhythm

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