Impaired posterior cingulate cortex-parahippocampus connectivity is associated with episodic memory retrieval problems in amnestic mild cognitive impairment
Episodic memory retention and retrieval decline are the most common impairments observed in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) patients who progress to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Clinical electroencephalography research shows that patients with dementia due to AD exhibit a slowing of neural electrical activity in the parietal cortex. Memory research has further suggested that successful memory performance is associated with changes in a posterior cingulate-parahippocampal cortical network together with increased θ-γ oscillatory coupling, where θ oscillations act as carrier waves for γ oscillations, which contain the actual information. However, the neurophysiological link between the memory research and clinical studies investigating aMCI and AD is lacking. In this study, we look at brain activity in aMCI and how it relates to memory performance. We demonstrate decreased γ power in the posterior cingulate cortex and the left and right parahippocampus in aMCI patients in comparison to control participants. This goes together with reduced θ coherence between the posterior cingulate cortex and parahippocampus associated with altered memory performance aMCI patients in comparison to control participants. In addition, comparing patients with aMCI to control participants reveals an effect for θ-γ coupling for the posterior cingulate cortex, and the left and right parahippocampus. Taken together, our results show that parahippocampus and posterior cingulate cortex interact via θ-γ coupling, which is associated with memory recollection and is altered in aMCI patients, offering a potential candidate mechanism for memory decline in aMCI.
Keywords: amnestic mild cognitive impairment; gamma; memory; posterior cingulate cortex; theta.