Altered visual entrainment in patients with Alzheimer's disease: magnetoencephalography evidence

Seth D. Springer, Alexander I Wiesman, Pamela E. May, Mikki Schantell, Hallie J. Johnson, Madelyn P. Willett, Camilo A. Castelblanco, Jacob A. Eastman, Nicholas J. Christopher-Hayes, Sara L. Wolfson, Craig M. Johnson, Daniel L. Murman, Tony W Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recent research has indicated that rhythmic visual entrainment may be useful in clearing pathological protein deposits in the central nervous system of mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. However, visual entrainment studies in human patients with Alzheimer's disease are rare, and as such the degree to which these patients exhibit aberrations in the neural tracking of rhythmic visual stimuli is unknown. To fill this gap, we recorded magnetoencephalography during a 15Hz visual entrainment paradigm in amyloid-positive patients on the Alzheimer's disease spectrum and compared their neural responses to a demographically matched group of biomarker-negative healthy controls. Magnetoencephalography data were imaged using a beamformer and virtual sensor data were extracted from the peak visual entrainment responses. Our results indicated that, relative to healthy controls, participants on the Alzheimer's disease spectrum exhibited significantly stronger 15Hz entrainment in primary visual cortices relative to a pre-stimulus baseline period. However, the two groups exhibited comparable absolute levels of neural entrainment, and higher absolute levels of entertainment predicted greater Mini-mental Status Examination scores, such that those patients whose absolute entrainment amplitude was closer to the level seen in controls had better cognitive function. In addition, 15Hz periodic activity, but not aperiodic activity, during the pre-stimulus baseline period was significantly decreased in patients on the Alzheimer's disease spectrum. This pattern of results indicates that patients on the Alzheimer's disease spectrum exhibited increased visual entrainment to rhythmic stimuli and that this increase is likely compensatory in nature. More broadly, these results show that visual entrainment is altered in patients with Alzheimer's disease and should be further examined in future studies, as changes in the capacity to entrain visual stimuli may prove useful as a marker of Alzheimer's disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfcac198
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Alzheimer's
  • dementia
  • entrainment
  • magnetoencephalography
  • vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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