Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Disturbed oscillatory brain dynamics in subcortical ischemic vascular dementia

Elisabeth CW van Straaten1*, Willem de Haan12, Hanneke de Waal12, Philip Scheltens2, Wiesje M van der Flier23, Frederik Barkhof4, Ted Koene5 and Cornelis J Stam1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, VU University Medical Center, de Boelelaan 1118, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, Netherlands

2 Neurology and Alzheimer Center, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

3 Epidemiology & biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

4 Radiology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

5 Medical Psychology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:85  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-85

Published: 24 July 2012



White matter hyperintensities (WMH) can lead to dementia but the underlying physiological mechanisms are unclear. We compared relative oscillatory power from electroencephalographic studies (EEGs) of 17 patients with subcortical ischemic vascular dementia, based on extensive white matter hyperintensities (SIVD-WMH) with 17 controls to investigate physiological changes underlying this diagnosis.


Differences between the groups were large, with a decrease of relative power of fast activity in patients (alpha power 0.25 ± 0.12 versus 0.38 ± 0.13, p = 0.01; beta power 0.08 ± 0.04 versus 0.19 ± 0.07; p<0.001) and an increase in relative powers of slow activity in patients (theta power 0.32 ± 0.11 versus 0.14 ± 0.09; p<0.001 and delta power 0.31 ± 0.14 versus 0.23 ± 0.09; p<0.05). Lower relative beta power was related to worse cognitive performance in a linear regression analysis (standardized beta = 0.67, p<0.01).


This pattern of disturbance in oscillatory brain activity indicate loss of connections between neurons, providing a first step in the understanding of cognitive dysfunction in SIVD-WMH.

EEG; Oscillations; Spectral analysis; Relative power; Vascular dementia; Cognition; White matter