EEG microstate complexity for aiding early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

Luke Tait, Francesco Tamagnini, George Stothart, Edoardo Barvas, Chiara Monaldini, Roberto Frusciante, Mirco Volpini, Susanna Guttmann, Elizabeth Coulthard, Jon T Brown, Nina Kazanina, Marc Goodfellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (SciVal)


The dynamics of the resting brain exhibit transitions between a small number of discrete networks, each remaining stable for tens to hundreds of milliseconds. These functional microstates are thought to be the building blocks of spontaneous consciousness. The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a useful tool for imaging microstates, and EEG microstate analysis can potentially give insight into altered brain dynamics underpinning cognitive impairment in disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Since EEG is non-invasive and relatively inexpensive, EEG microstates have the potential to be useful clinical tools for aiding early diagnosis of AD. In this study, EEG was collected from two independent cohorts of probable AD and cognitively healthy control participants, and a cohort of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients with four-year clinical follow-up. The microstate associated with the frontoparietal working-memory/attention network was altered in AD due to parietal inactivation. Using a novel measure of complexity, we found microstate transitioning was slower and less complex in AD. When combined with a spectral EEG measure, microstate complexity could classify AD with sensitivity and specificity > 80%, which was tested on an independent cohort, and could predict progression from MCI to AD in a small preliminary test cohort of 11 participants. EEG microstates therefore have potential to be a non-invasive functional biomarker of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17627
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2020


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease/diagnosis
  • Brain/physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping/methods
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Electroencephalography/methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


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