OBJECTIVE: Cognitive reserve (CR) is the capacity to adapt to (future) brain damage without any or only minimal clinical symptoms. The underlying neuroplastic mechanisms remain unclear. Electrocorticography (ECOG), electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetoencephalography (MEG) may help elucidate the brain mechanisms underlying CR, as CR is thought to be related to efficient utilization of remaining brain resources. The purpose of this systematic review is to collect, evaluate, and synthesize the findings on neural correlates of CR estimates using ECOG, EEG, and MEG.
METHOD: We examined articles that were published from the first standardized definition of CR. Eleven EEG and five MEG cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria: They concerned original research, analyzed (M)EEG in humans, used a validated CR estimate, and related (M)EEG to CR. Quality assessment was conducted using an adapted form of the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. No ECOG study met the inclusion criteria.
RESULTS: A total of 1383 participants from heterogeneous patient, young and older healthy groups were divided into three categories by (M)EEG methodology: Eight (M)EEG studies employed event-related fields or potentials, six studies analyzed brain oscillations at rest (of which one also analyzed a cognitive task), and three studies analyzed brain connectivity. Various CR estimates were employed and all studies compared different (M)EEG measures and CR estimates. Several associations between (M)EEG measures and CR estimates were observed.
CONCLUSION: Our findings support that (M)EEG measures are related to CR estimates, particularly in healthy individuals. However, the character of this relationship is dependent on the population and task studied, warranting further studies.