Although a slowing of electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during wakefulness and -to some extent- sleep of Alzheimer disease (AD) patients (i.e., increased slow-frequency activity) was documented, recent findings in healthy elderly show a decreased 0.6-1 Hz slow wave activity (SWA) during NREM, which was associated to β-amyloid deposition and impaired hippocampal memory consolidation. We hypothesize that the apparent contradiction may be explained by the partial overlap between 0.6-1 Hz EEG activity and K-Complex (KC). According to this view, we studied both frontal KCs and SWA in 20 AD patients and 20 healthy age-matched controls (HC) during nightly sleep, under the hypothesis that KCs better discriminate patients from healthy elderly than ≤1 Hz SWA. A drastic decrease of KC density during stage 2 NREM was found in AD compared to HC. Patients show more than 40% reduction of the KC density, allowing a correct classification of 80%. On the other hand, ≤1 Hz SWA of AD patients is slightly (not significantly) higher in most cortical areas compared to HC. Although no significant changes of ≤1 Hz SWA are detectable over frontal areas in AD, KC density decreases over the same location, and its decrease is related to the cognitive decline.
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