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J Neurosci. 2011 Feb 9;31(6):2091-100. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4722-10.2011.

Nonuniform high-gamma (60-500 Hz) power changes dissociate cognitive task and anatomy in human cortex.

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Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Neurological Surgery, and Computer Science, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


High-gamma-band (>60 Hz) power changes in cortical electrophysiology are a reliable indicator of focal, event-related cortical activity. Despite discoveries of oscillatory subthreshold and synchronous suprathreshold activity at the cellular level, there is an increasingly popular view that high-gamma-band amplitude changes recorded from cellular ensembles are the result of asynchronous firing activity that yields wideband and uniform power increases. Others have demonstrated independence of power changes in the low- and high-gamma bands, but to date, no studies have shown evidence of any such independence above 60 Hz. Based on nonuniformities in time-frequency analyses of electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals, we hypothesized that induced high-gamma-band (60-500 Hz) power changes are more heterogeneous than currently understood. Using single-word repetition tasks in six human subjects, we showed that functional responsiveness of different ECoG high-gamma sub-bands can discriminate cognitive task (e.g., hearing, reading, speaking) and cortical locations. Power changes in these sub-bands of the high-gamma range are consistently present within single trials and have statistically different time courses within the trial structure. Moreover, when consolidated across all subjects within three task-relevant anatomic regions (sensorimotor, Broca's area, and superior temporal gyrus), these behavior- and location-dependent power changes evidenced nonuniform trends across the population. Together, the independence and nonuniformity of power changes across a broad range of frequencies suggest that a new approach to evaluating high-gamma-band cortical activity is necessary. These findings show that in addition to time and location, frequency is another fundamental dimension of high-gamma dynamics.

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