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Relationship between Regional White Matter Hyperintensities and Alpha Oscillations in Older Adults

By Deniz Kumral, Elena Cesnaite, Frauke Beyer, Simon M. Hofmann, Tilman Hensch, Christian Sander, Ulrich Hegerl, Stefan Haufe, Arno Villringer, Veronica Witte, Vadim Nikulin

Posted 06 Sep 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.04.283200

Aging is associated with increased white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) and with the alterations of alpha oscillations (7-13 Hz). However, a crucial question remains, whether changes in alpha oscillations relate to aging per se or whether this relationship is mediated by age-related neuropathology like WMHs. Using a large cohort of cognitively healthy older adults (N=907, 60-80 years), we assessed relative alpha power, alpha peak frequency, and long-range temporal correlations (LRTC) from resting-state EEG. We further associated these parameters with voxel-wise WMHs from 3T MRI. We found that a higher prevalence of WMHs in the superior and posterior corona radiata as well as in the thalamic radiation was related to elevated alpha power, with the strongest association in the bilateral occipital cortex. In contrast, we observed no significant relation of the WMHs probability with alpha peak frequency and LRTC. Finally, higher age was associated with elevated alpha power via total WMH volume. Although an increase in alpha oscillations due to WMH can have a compensatory nature, we rather suggest that an elevated alpha power is a consequence of WMH affecting a spatial organization of alpha sources.

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