Magnetoencephalography Brain Signatures Relate to Cognition and Cognitive Reserve in the Oldest-Old: The EMIF-AD 90+Study

A. Griffa*, N. Legdeur, M. Badissi, M.P. van den Heuvel, C.J. Stam, P.J. Visser, A. Hillebrand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The oldest-old subjects represent the fastest growing segment of society and are at high risk for dementia with a prevalence of up to 40%. Lifestyle factors, such as lifelong participation in cognitive and leisure activities, may contribute to individual cognitive reserve and reduce the risk for cognitive impairments. However, the neural bases underlying cognitive functioning and cognitive reserve in this age range are still poorly understood. Here, we investigate spectral and functional connectivity features obtained from resting-state MEG recordings in a cohort of 35 cognitively normal (92.2 +/- 1.8 years old, 19 women) and 11 cognitively impaired (90.9 +/- 1.9 years old, 1 woman) oldest-old participants, in relation to cognitive traits and cognitive reserve. The latter was approximated with a self-reported scale on lifelong engagement in cognitively demanding activities. Cognitively impaired oldest-old participants had slower cortical rhythms in frontal, parietal and default mode network regions compared to the cognitively normal subjects. These alterations mainly concerned the theta and beta band and partially explained inter-subject variability of episodic memory scores. Moreover, a distinct spectral pattern characterized by higher relative power in the alpha band was specifically associated with higher cognitive reserve while taking into account the effect of age and education level. Finally, stronger functional connectivity in the alpha and beta band were weakly associated with better cognitive performances in the whole group of subjects, although functional connectivity effects were less prominent than the spectral ones. Our results shed new light on the neural underpinnings of cognitive functioning in the oldest-old population and indicate that cognitive performance and cognitive reserve may have distinct spectral electrophysiological substrates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number746373
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021


  • cognition
  • functional connectivity
  • cognitive reserve
  • oldest-old
  • magnetoencephalography
  • EEG
  • MEG

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