Objective: To investigate whether regional white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) relate to alpha oscillations (AO) in a large population-based sample of elderly individuals. Methods: We associated voxel-wise WMHs from high-resolution 3-Tesla MRI with neuronal alpha oscillations (AO) from resting-state multichannel EEG at sensor (N=907) and source space (N=855) in older participants of the LIFE-Adult study (60-80 years). In EEG, we computed relative alpha power (AP), individual alpha peak frequency (IAPF), as well as long-range temporal correlations (LRTC) that represent dynamic properties of the signal. We implemented whole-brain voxel-wise regression models to identify regions where parameters of AO were linked to probability of WMH occurrence. We further used mediation analyses to examine whether WMH volume mediated the relationship between age and AO. Results: Higher prevalence of WMHs in the superior and posterior corona radiata was related to elevated relative AP, with strongest correlations in the bilateral occipital cortex, even after controlling for potential confounding factors. The age-related increase of relative AP in the right temporal brain region was shown to be mediated by total WMH volume. Conclusion: A high relative AP corresponding to increased regional WMHs was not associated with age per se, in fact, this relationship was mediated by WMHs. We argue that the WMH-associated increase of AP reflects a generalized and likely compensatory spread of AO leading to a larger number of synchronously recruited neurons. Our findings thus suggest that longitudinal EEG recordings might be sensitive to detect functional changes due to WMHs.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience