Associations between age-related differences in occipital alpha power and the broadband parameters of the EEG power spectrum: A cross-sectional cohort study

Mindie Clark, Matthew J. Euler, Bradley R. King, A. Mark Williams, Keith R. Lohse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In adulthood, neurological structure and function are often affected by aging, with negative implications for daily life as well as laboratory-based tasks. Some of these changes include decreased efficiency modulating cortical activity and lower signal-to-noise ratios in neural processing (as inferred from surface electroencephalography). To better understand mechanisms influencing age-related changes in cortical activity, we explored the effects of aging on narrow-band alpha power (7.5–12.5 Hz) and broadband/aperiodic components that span a wider range (1.5–30.5 Hz) over the occipital region during eyes-open and eyes-closed wakeful rest in 19 healthy young adults (18–35 years) and 21 community-dwelling older adults (59+ years). Older adults exhibited a smaller change in alpha power across conditions compared to younger adults. Older adults also showed flatter aperiodic slopes in both conditions. These changes in narrow-band alpha are consistent with previous work and suggest that older adults may have a reduced ability to modulate state-specific activity. Differences in the aperiodic slope suggest age-related changes in the signal-noise-ratio in cortical oscillations. However, the relationship between narrow-band alpha modulation and the aperiodic slope was unclear, warranting further investigation into how these variables relate to each other in the aging process. In summary, aging is associated with a broadband flattening of the EEG power spectrum and reduced state-specific modulation of narrow-band alpha power, but these changes appear to be (at least partially) independent of each other. The present findings suggest that separate mechanisms may underlie age-related differences in aperiodic power and narrow-band oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112272
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Volume195
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Alpha modulation
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Neural noise

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