BACKGROUND: Studies on mice models of Alzheimer's disease (AD) have suggested potential therapeutic benefits of intermittent photic stimulation at 40 Hz.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the physiological response of 40 Hz intermittent photic stimulation (IPS) on routine EEG in a large retrospective cohort to investigate the effects of age on induced gamma oscillations by intermittent photic stimulation. Since most AD patients are elderly, it is important for future research to know if age affects photic stimulation.
METHODS: Retrospective data from 1,464 subjects aged 0- 91. We performed frequency analysis and automatic peak detection and used regression analysis to investigate the effects of age and sex on peak frequencies and amplitude changes. To investigate the spread of the induced gamma oscillations, we assessed averaged topographies of 40 Hz band power.
RESULTS: There was a statistically significant but very minor effect of age on amplitude change (- 0.002 normalized power per year, p < 0.0001) but not for sex (p = 0.728). Detection probability of induced peaks was significantly predicted by both age (OR = 0.988, CI 95 % [0.984, 0.993], p < 0.00001) and sex (OR = 0.625, CI 95 % [0.496, 0.787>], p < 0.0001). The induced 40 Hz gamma entrainment is spatially confined to the occipital area.
CONCLUSION: There is a significant effect of age on induced gamma activity, but advanced age does not fundamentally change the behavior of the response in either magnitude or spatial distribution. This fact is important regarding future research into the possible therapeutic effects of photic stimulation in patients with AD.