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J Neurosci. 2006 May 3;26(18):4940-8.

Synchronization between background activity and visually evoked potential is not mirrored by focal hyperoxygenation: implications for the interpretation of vascular brain imaging.

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Berlin NeuroImaging Centre, Department of Neurology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


We performed an electroencephalography and optical topography study simultaneously exploring electrophysiological and vascular response magnitude as a function of stimulus frequency. To elicit a response in the visual cortex, subjects were exposed to flicker frequencies varying from 1 to 25 Hz (1 Hz steps, eyes closed). Extending the standard view to compare magnitudes of the evoked neuronal to the evoked vascular response, we additionally investigated modulations of alpha-power, a marker of "background" EEG activity. The results show two discrepancies between the electrophysiological and vascular response: (1) VEP and alpha-power exhibit a discontinuous peak when stimulating at the individual alpha-frequency (IAF) (approximately 10-11 Hz), indicating resonance between background oscillations and evoked response; this is not mirrored by the vascular response. (2) The vascular response, in contrast, steadily increases up to a maximum at 7-8 Hz and slightly decreases with higher frequencies. This continuous frequency dependence is partly reflected by the decrease in alpha-power up to frequencies of 8-9 Hz and a slight increase in alpha-power beyond the IAF resonance. Although indicating an inverse relationship between alpha-power and vascular response, the frequency dependence of the evoked response does not show such a correlation. Thus, electrophysiological resonance between an individual's alpha-frequency and isofrequent stimulation is not mirrored by the vascular response. Also, spontaneous background EEG activity is an important modulator of the vascular response magnitude. We discuss these deviations from a simple one-to-one translation between evoked potential and vascular response amplitude in the light of questions concerning synchronization, attenuation, and induction of background oscillations such as the alpha-rhythm.

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