Visuospatial alpha and gamma oscillations scale with the severity of cognitive dysfunction in patients on the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum

Alex I. Wiesman, Daniel L. Murman, Pamela E. May, Mikki Schantell, Sara L. Wolfson, Craig M. Johnson, Tony W Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Entrainment of neural oscillations in occipital cortices by external rhythmic visual stimuli has been proposed as a novel therapy for patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Despite this increased interest in visual neural oscillations in AD, little is known regarding their role in AD-related cognitive impairment and in particular during visuospatial processing. Methods: We used source-imaged magnetoencephalography (MEG) and an established visuospatial processing task to elicit multi-spectral neuronal responses in 35 biomarker-confirmed patients on the AD spectrum and 20 biomarker-negative older adults. Neuronal oscillatory responses were imaged to the level of the cortex, and group classifications and neurocognitive relationships were modeled using logistic and linear regression, respectively. Results: Visuospatial neuronal oscillations in the theta, alpha, and gamma ranges significantly predicted the classification of patients on the AD spectrum. Importantly, the direction of these effects differed by response frequency, such that patients on the AD spectrum exhibited weaker alpha-frequency responses in lateral occipital regions, and stronger gamma-frequency responses in the primary visual cortex, as compared to biomarker-negative older adults. In addition, alpha and gamma, but not theta, oscillations robustly predicted cognitive status (i.e., MoCA and MMSE scores), such that patients with neural responses that deviated more from those of healthy older adults exhibited poorer cognitive performance. Conclusions: We find that the multi-spectral neural dynamics supporting visuospatial processing differentiate patients on the AD spectrum from cognitively normal, biomarker-negative older adults. Oscillations in the alpha and gamma bands also relate to cognitive status in ways that are informative for emerging clinical interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number139
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Neural oscillations
  • Source imaging
  • Visuospatial processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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