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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Nov 19;116(47):23772-23782. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1913092116. Epub 2019 Nov 4.

The generation and propagation of the human alpha rhythm.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114; mhalgren@mit.edu.
2
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Center for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest 1051, Hungary.
3
Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics, Péter Pázmány Catholic University, Budapest 1088, Hungary.
4
Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Université Claude Bernard, 69100 Villeurbanne, France.
5
Unité d'Hypnologie, Service de Neurologie Fonctionnelle et d'Épileptologie, Hôpital Neurologique, Hospices Civils de Lyon, 69003 Lyon, France.
6
Epilepsy Centrum, National Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, 1145 Budapest, Hungary.
7
Department of Functional Neurosurgery, National Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, 1145 Budapest, Hungary.
8
Division is Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, Aix-Marseille Université, 13007 Marseille, France.
9
INSERM, Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, 13005 Marseille, France.
10
Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille, Timone Hospital, 13005 Marseille, France.
11
Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016.
12
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
13
Department of Neurosciences and Radiology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 93093.
14
Department of Neurosurgery, Permanente Medical Group, Redwood City, CA 94063.
15
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114.
16
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093.

Abstract

The alpha rhythm is the longest-studied brain oscillation and has been theorized to play a key role in cognition. Still, its physiology is poorly understood. In this study, we used microelectrodes and macroelectrodes in surgical epilepsy patients to measure the intracortical and thalamic generators of the alpha rhythm during quiet wakefulness. We first found that alpha in both visual and somatosensory cortex propagates from higher-order to lower-order areas. In posterior cortex, alpha propagates from higher-order anterosuperior areas toward the occipital pole, whereas alpha in somatosensory cortex propagates from associative regions toward primary cortex. Several analyses suggest that this cortical alpha leads pulvinar alpha, complicating prevailing theories of a thalamic pacemaker. Finally, alpha is dominated by currents and firing in supragranular cortical layers. Together, these results suggest that the alpha rhythm likely reflects short-range supragranular feedback, which propagates from higher- to lower-order cortex and cortex to thalamus. These physiological insights suggest how alpha could mediate feedback throughout the thalamocortical system.

KEYWORDS:

alpha; intracranial EEG; laminar; oscillations; thalamocortical

PMID:
31685634
PMCID:
PMC6876194
[Available on 2020-05-04]
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1913092116

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interest.

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