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Neuroimage. 2013 Aug 1;76:81-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.03.018. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

EEG alpha activity is associated with individual differences in post-break improvement.

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  • 1Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology (SINAPSE), Centre for Life Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


Continuous EEG activity has been used increasingly as a marker of mental and cognitive states, with previous work linking particular neural patterns to conditions of arousal or fatigue. This approach is more commonly used to assess task-related, as opposed to resting-state activity. In this study, we recorded the EEG of 31 healthy individuals as they performed two sessions of a 65-minute auditory oddball task, one with, and one without a 5-minute break opportunity. Over the course of the task, reaction times, as well as EEG power in theta and lower alpha bands increased in both conditions, but did not differ significantly between conditions. Over the period of the break, delta and theta EEG activity decreased significantly in comparison with activity in the equivalent period in the no-break condition. Individual differences in response to the break were observed, with approximately half the subjects showing an improvement, and half showing a decline. These individual differences were correlated both with decreases in theta activity, as well as resting upper alpha power during the period of the break. Our results suggest that tonic EEG activity during resting periods is meaningfully related to behavioral change between individuals based on physiological or psychological factors that remain to be explored.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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