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Age and APOE genotype affect the relationship between objectively measured physical activity and power in the alpha band, a marker of brain disease

de Frutos-Lucas, J., Cuesta, P., Ramírez-Toraño, F., Nebreda, A., Cuadrado-Soto, E., Peral-Suárez, Á., López-Sanz, D., Bruña, R., Marcos-de Pedro, S., Delgado-Losada, M.L., López-Sobaler, A.M., Concepción Rodríguez-Rojo, I., Barabash, A., Serrano Rodriguez, J.M., Laws, S.M., Dolado, A.M., López-Higes, R., Brown, B.M.ORCID: 0000-0001-7927-2540 and Maestú, Fernando (2020) Age and APOE genotype affect the relationship between objectively measured physical activity and power in the alpha band, a marker of brain disease. Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, 12 (1). Art. 113.

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Electrophysiological studies show that reductions in power within the alpha band are associated with the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) continuum. Physical activity (PA) is a protective factor that has proved to reduce AD risk and pathological brain burden. Previous research has confirmed that exercise increases power in the alpha range. However, little is known regarding whether other non-modifiable risk factors for AD, such as increased age or APOE ε4 carriage, alter the association between PA and power in the alpha band.


The relationship between PA and alpha band power was examined in a sample of 113 healthy adults using magnetoencephalography. Additionally, we explored whether ε4 carriage and age modulate this association. The correlations between alpha power and gray matter volumes and cognition were also investigated.


We detected a parieto-occipital cluster in which PA positively correlated with alpha power. The association between PA and alpha power remained following stratification of the cohort by genotype. Younger and older adults were investigated separately, and only younger adults exhibited a positive relationship between PA and alpha power. Interestingly, when four groups were created based on age (younger-older adult) and APOE (E3/E3-E3/E4), only younger E3/E3 (least predicted risk) and older E3/E4 (greatest predicted risk) had associations between greater alpha power and higher PA. Among older E3/E4, greater alpha power in these regions was associated with improved memory and preserved brain structure.


PA could protect against the slowing of brain activity that characterizes the AD continuum, where it is of benefit for all individuals, especially E3/E4 older adults.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Biomed Central
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being
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