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Int J Psychophysiol. 2003 Mar;47(3):187-98.

Preferred EEG brain states at stimulus onset in a fixed interstimulus interval auditory oddball task, and their effects on ERP components.

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Brain & Behaviour Research Institute and Department of Psychology, University of Wollongong, Wollongong 2522, Australia.


Previous work has indicated the importance of ongoing EEG activity in the elicitation of the event-related potential (ERP), supporting the conceptualisation of the ERP in terms of amplification and attenuation of component frequencies in the EEG. We investigated the importance of the phase of narrow-band EEG activity in generating N1 and P2 components in the auditory ERP. An auditory oddball paradigm requiring a button-press response to targets, with fixed interstimulus interval (ISI) and 15% target probability, was utilised. The continuous EEG at Cz was recorded from 16 subjects as the raw data set. Offline digital filtering was used to separate the EEG into 13 narrow bands from 1 to 13 Hz. For each band, the phase at the onset of each non-target stimulus was determined. These were used to sub-average the unfiltered data stream at each of four phases for each of 13 frequencies for each subject. Phase effects were examined in terms of two orthogonal dimensions of electrical brain activity: Cortical negativity and negative driving. Stimulus onset varied as a function of these dimensions in a non-random fashion across frequency, indicating the preferential occurrence of particular phases, interpretable as preferred brain states. Large differential effects were also apparent in N1 and P2 amplitudes. These data indicate important aspects of brain dynamics, suggesting that in a fixed-ISI paradigm the component frequencies of the EEG are dynamically adjusted in order to provide particular brain states at stimulus occurrence to facilitate the brain's processing of the stimulus.

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