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Cereb Cortex. 2014 Apr;24(4):1045-53. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs389. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

Effects of neural synchrony on surface EEG.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, D-72076 Tübingen, Germany.


It has long been assumed that the surface electroencephalography (EEG) signal depends on both the amplitude and spatial synchronization of underlying neural activity, though isolating their respective contribution remains elusive. To address this, we made simultaneous surface EEG measurements along with intracortical recordings of local field potentials (LFPs) in the primary visual cortex of behaving nonhuman primates. We found that trial-by-trial fluctuations in EEG power could be explained by a linear combination of LFP power and interelectrode temporal synchrony. This effect was observed in both stimulus and stimulus-free conditions and was particularly strong in the gamma range (30-100 Hz). Subsequently, we used pharmacological manipulations to show that neural synchrony can produce a positively modulated EEG signal even when the LFP signal is negatively modulated. Taken together, our results demonstrate that neural synchrony can modulate EEG signals independently of amplitude changes in neural activity. This finding has strong implications for the interpretation of EEG in basic and clinical research, and helps reconcile EEG response discrepancies observed in different modalities (e.g., EEG vs. functional magnetic resonance imaging) and different spatial scales (e.g., EEG vs. intracranial EEG).


EEG; LFP; MUA; lidocaine; synchrony

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