Stability of clinical condition in mild cognitive impairment is related to cortical sources of alpha rhythms: An electroencephalographic study

Claudio Babiloni, Giovanni B. Frisoni, Fabrizio Vecchio, Roberta Lizio, Michela Pievani, Geroldi Cristina, Claudia Fracassi, Fabrizio Vernieri, Guido Rodriguez, Flavio Nobili, Raffaele Ferri, Paolo M. Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous evidence has shown that resting eyes-closed cortical alpha rhythms are higher in amplitude in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than Alzheimer's disease (AD) subjects (Babiloni et al. [2006a]: Human Brain Mapp 27:162-172; [2006b]: Clin Neurophysiol 117:252-268; [2006c]: Neuroimage 29:948-964; [2006d]: Ann Neurol 59:323-334; [2006e]: Clin Neurophysiol 117:1113-1129; [2006f]: Neuroimage 31:1650-1665). This study tested the hypothesis that, in amnesic MCI subjects, high amplitude of baseline cortical alpha rhythms is related to long-term stability of global cognition on clinical follow-up. Resting electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded in 100 amnesic MCI subjects during eyes-closed condition. EEG rhythms of interest were delta (2-4 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), alpha1 (8-10.5 Hz), alpha2 (10.5-13 Hz), beta1 (13-20 Hz), and beta2 (20-30 Hz). Cortical EEG sources were estimated by low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA). Global cognition was indexed by mini mental state evaluation (MMSE) score at the time of EEG recordings (baseline) and about after 1 year. Based on the MMSE percentage difference between baseline and 1-year follow-up (MMSEvar), the MCI subjects were retrospectively divided into three arbitrary groups: DECREASED (MMSEvar ≤ -4%; N = 43), STABLE (MMSEvar ≈ 0; N = 27), and INCREASED (MMSEvar ≥ +4%; N = 30). Subjects' age, education, individual alpha frequency, gender, and MMSE scores were used as covariates for statistical analysis. Baseline posterior cortical sources of alpha 1 rhythms were higher in amplitude in the STABLE than in the DECREASED and INCREASED groups. These results suggest that preserved resting cortical neural synchronization at alpha frequency is related to a long-term (1 year) stable cognitive function in MCI subjects. Future studies should use serial MMSE measurements to confirm and refine the present results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1916-1931
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Alpha rhythms
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cognitive decline
  • Electroencephalography
  • Low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography
  • Mild cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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