Detecting impaired language processing in MCI patients using around-the-ear cEEgrid electrodes

Katrien Segaert, Charlotte Poulisse, Roksana Markiewicz, Linda Wheeldon, Deepti Marchment, Adler Zoe, David Howett, Dennis Chan, Ali Mazaheri

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Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the term used to identify those individuals with subjective and objective cognitive decline but with preserved activities of daily living and an absence of dementia. Although MCI can impact functioning in different cognitive domains, most notably episodic memory, relatively little is known about the comprehension of language in MCI. In this study, we used around-the-ear electrodes (cEEGrids) to identify impairments during language comprehension in patients with MCI. In a group of 23 patients with MCI and 23 age-matched controls, language comprehension was tested in a two-word phrase paradigm. We examined the oscillatory changes following word onset as a function of lexico-semantic single-word retrieval (e.g., swrfeq vs. swift) and multiword binding processes (e.g., horse preceded by swift vs. preceded by swrfeq). Electrophysiological signatures (as measured by the cEEGrids) were significantly different between patients with MCI and controls. In controls, lexical retrieval was associated with a rebound in the alpha/beta range, and binding was associated with a post-word alpha/beta suppression. In contrast, both the single-word retrieval and multiword binding signatures were absent in the MCI group. The signatures observed using cEEGrids in controls were comparable with those signatures obtained with a full-cap EEG setup. Importantly, our findings suggest that patients with MCI have impaired electrophysiological signatures for comprehending single words and multiword phrases. Moreover, cEEGrid setups provide a noninvasive and sensitive clinical tool for detecting early impairments in language comprehension in MCI.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13964
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Not yet published in issue as of 29/11/2021.


  • cEEGrid
  • cognitive ageing
  • conversion to AD
  • language comprehension
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • sentence processing
  • word processing


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