Research Topic

Oscillatory Brain Activity as a Marker of Brain Function and Dysfunction in Aging and in Neurodegenerative Disorders

About this Research Topic

Oscillations are a fundamental mechanism of information processing in neural networks. Modulation of oscillatory power in different frequency bands is thought to reflect changes in the synchronization of local and long-range neuronal assemblies. Oscillations are modulated by cognitive state, task demands, and ...

Oscillations are a fundamental mechanism of information processing in neural networks. Modulation of oscillatory power in different frequency bands is thought to reflect changes in the synchronization of local and long-range neuronal assemblies. Oscillations are modulated by cognitive state, task demands, and cognitive load. Examination of oscillatory signals during rest and during task performance has the potential to provide unique information useful for understanding adaptive functional changes associated with healthy aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Parkinson’s Disease. Specifically, shifts of oscillatory signal toward slow-wave activity are actively studied as indicators of neuronal dysfunction, which have been related to delayed neural responsiveness and more severe cognitive impairment. Studying oscillatory slowing in dementia is of particular interest because this appears to be in the direction opposite to the adaptive changes typically associated with healthy aging. A better understanding of the differences in oscillatory activity between healthy and pathological aging can be leveraged to increase the effectiveness of targeted interventions.

The goal of this Research Topic is to showcase the potential applications of oscillatory brain activity as a marker of healthy aging, and neural dysfunction in aging and associated disorders. Over a healthy aging trajectory, profound structural degradation is reported, which is associated with aging-related cognitive decline. Accompanying changes in oscillatory activity reflect speeding i.e., a shift in oscillatory power toward higher frequency bands, and are thought to compensate for the ongoing alterations in otherwise intact neurons and neuronal circuits. In contrast, the predominant changes in pathological aging as in dementia are related to neuronal death, instigated by abnormal protein deposition. Although frank structural atrophy is one of the most reliable and sensitive signs of dementia, it reflects an advanced and irreversible stage of the disease. It has been increasingly recognized that sensitive biomarkers of initial changes in the brain that precede structural atrophy are crucial for early diagnosis and possible mitigation of dementia. Examination of oscillatory brain activity can potentially serve as one such marker. Oscillatory slowing, i.e., shift in oscillatory power toward lower frequency bands, of both task-related and spontaneous neuronal activity is found in several neurodegenerative disorders and is linked to functional and cognitive decline. In association with cognitive symptom severity, the shift from speeding to slowing can signal transition from healthy to mild to more advanced stages of the disease. The onset of slowing can provide a critical time window to begin targeted treatments. Thus, oscillatory activity associated with aging and changes thereof in dementia may offer insight into incipient neuronal dysfunction and potential targets for treatment. Ultimately this knowledge will promote the development of interventions to maintain cognitive health during normal aging, and for early diagnosis and mitigation of physiological and cognitive dysfunctions in abnormal aging.

The aim of this Research Topic is to gain a deeper understanding of healthy and pathological aging-related oscillatory brain activity. Topics encompassing the neurobiological processes, the timing (onset and offset of slowing), the involvement of specific brain regions, and their connections underlying oscillatory brain activity in healthy aging and neurodegenerative disorders will be considered. Studies involving neurodegenerative disorders that focus on oscillatory brain activity to aid early diagnosis, measure cognitive and functional impairment severity and/or treatment effectiveness will be considered. Studies involving healthy aging both as a primary topic-of-interest or as a comparison to evaluate normal vs. abnormal oscillatory activity will be considered. We are also interested in studies that investigate the modulation of oscillatory activity related to intervention both in healthy aging and neurodegenerative disorders. The neurodegenerative disorders of interest include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s Disorder, fronto-temporal dementias, Primary Progressive Aphasia, MCI, Parkinson’s disease. The studies are expected to be based on neuroimaging techniques including, but not limited to, electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). The neuromodulation studies using behavioral interventions and transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) that are within the scope of this topic are also welcome.

In this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of original research, case studies, reviews, meta-analyses, methodological, and theoretical articles. Subtopics of interest include:

• Oscillatory activity associated with healthy and pathological aging and neurodegeneration
● Relationship between spontaneous and task-related oscillatory activity in healthy and pathological aging
● Changes in oscillatory activity associated with asymptomatic, early vs. more advanced cognitive and motor symptoms
• Resting-state and task-related neural dynamics as early markers of neurodegeneration
● Relationship between oscillatory activity and structural changes (e.g., gray matter and white matter atrophy and disconnection)
● Role of brain oscillations in modulating short and long-range functional connectivity
• Modulation of oscillatory power as a marker of neuronal and/or synaptic loss or dysfunction.
● Changes of oscillatory activity related to intervention in healthy and pathological aging
● Modulation of oscillatory activity, brain networks, and cognitive performance


Keywords: Brain oscillations, Aging, Neurodegenerative disorders, Resting-state, Connectivity, Cognitive performance


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 June 2021 Manuscript

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Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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