EEG functional network topology is associated with disability in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Matteo Fraschini, Matteo Demuru, Arjan Hillebrand, Lorenza Cuccu, Silvia Porcu, Francesca Di Stefano, Monica Puligheddu, Gianluca Floris, Giuseppe Borghero, Francesco Marrosu

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is one of the most severe neurodegenerative diseases, which is known to affect upper and lower motor neurons. In contrast to the classical tenet that ALS represents the outcome of extensive and progressive impairment of a fixed set of motor connections, recent neuroimaging findings suggest that the disease spreads along vast non-motor connections. Here, we hypothesised that functional network topology is perturbed in ALS, and that this reorganization is associated with disability. We tested this hypothesis in 21 patients affected by ALS at several stages of impairment using resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) and compared the results to 16 age-matched healthy controls. We estimated functional connectivity using the Phase Lag Index (PLI), and characterized the network topology using the minimum spanning tree (MST). We found a significant difference between groups in terms of MST dissimilarity and MST leaf fraction in the beta band. Moreover, some MST parameters (leaf, hierarchy and kappa) significantly correlated with disability. These findings suggest that the topology of resting-state functional networks in ALS is affected by the disease in relation to disability. EEG network analysis may be of help in monitoring and evaluating the clinical status of ALS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38653
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2016

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