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Open Access Research article

Quantitative electroencephalography reveals different physiological profiles between benign and remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis patients

Manuel Vazquez-Marrufo12*, Javier J Gonzalez-Rosa12, Encarnacion Vaquero1, Pablo Duque2, Monica Borges2, Carlos Gomez1 and Guillermo Izquierdo2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Psychophysiology, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Seville, Camilo Jose Cela s/n, 41018 Seville, Spain

2 Multiple Sclerosis Unit, Virgen Macarena Hospital, Avda Dr Fedriani s/n, 41009 Seville, Spain

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BMC Neurology 2008, 8:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-8-44

Published: 24 November 2008

Abstract

Background

A possible method of finding physiological markers of multiple sclerosis (MS) is the application of EEG quantification (QEEG) of brain activity when the subject is stressed by the demands of a cognitive task. In particular, modulations of the spectral content that take place in the EEG of patients with multiple sclerosis remitting-relapsing (RRMS) and benign multiple sclerosis (BMS) during a visuo-spatial task need to be observed.

Methods

The sample consisted of 19 patients with RRMS, 10 with BMS, and 21 control subjects. All patients were free of medication and had not relapsed within the last month. The power spectral density (PSD) of different EEG bands was calculated by Fast-Fourier-Transformation (FFT), those analysed being delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma. Z-transformation was performed to observe individual profiles in each experimental group for spectral modulations. Lastly, correlation analyses was performed between QEEG values and other variables from participants in the study (age, EDSS, years of evolution and cognitive performance).

Results

Nearly half (42%) the RRMS patients showed a statistically significant increase of two or more standard deviations (SD) compared to the control mean value for the beta-2 and gamma bands (F = 2.074, p = 0.004). These alterations were localized to the anterior regions of the right hemisphere, and bilaterally to the posterior areas of the scalp. None of the BMS patients or control subjects had values outside the range of ± 2 SD. There were no significant correlations between these values and the other variables analysed (age, EDSS, years of evolution or behavioural performance).

Conclusion

During the attentional processing, changes in the high EEG spectrum (beta-2 and gamma) in MS patients exhibit physiological alterations that are not normally detected by spontaneous EEG analysis. The different spectral pattern between pathological and controls groups could represent specific changes for the RRMS patients, indicative of compensatory mechanisms or cortical excitatory states representative of some phases during the RRMS course that are not present in the BMS group.