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Neuroimage. 2013 Oct 1;79:223-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.04.044. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Dominant frequencies of resting human brain activity as measured by the electrocorticogram.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine and Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, 300 Community Dr., Manhasset, NY 11030, USA.


The brain's spontaneous, intrinsic activity is increasingly being shown to reveal brain function, delineate large scale brain networks, and diagnose brain disorders. One of the most studied and clinically utilized types of intrinsic brain activity are oscillations in the electrocorticogram (ECoG), a relatively localized measure of cortical synaptic activity. Here we objectively characterize the types of ECoG oscillations commonly observed over particular cortical areas when an individual is awake and immobile with eyes closed, using a surface-based cortical atlas and cluster analysis. Both methods show that [1] there is generally substantial variability in the dominant frequencies of cortical regions and substantial overlap in dominant frequencies across the areas sampled (primarily lateral central, temporal, and frontal areas), [2] theta (4-8 Hz) is the most dominant type of oscillation in the areas sampled with a mode around 7 Hz, [3] alpha (8-13 Hz) is largely limited to parietal and occipital regions, and [4] beta (13-30 Hz) is prominent peri-Rolandically, over the middle frontal gyrus, and the pars opercularis. In addition, the cluster analysis revealed seven types of ECoG spectral power densities (SPDs). Six of these have peaks at 3, 5, 7 (narrow), 7 (broad), 10, and 17 Hz, while the remaining cluster is broadly distributed with less pronounced peaks at 8, 19, and 42 Hz. These categories largely corroborate conventional sub-gamma frequency band distinctions (delta, theta, alpha, and beta) and suggest multiple sub-types of theta. Finally, we note that gamma/high gamma activity (30+ Hz) was at times prominently observed, but was too infrequent and variable across individuals to be reliably characterized. These results should help identify abnormal patterns of ECoG oscillations, inform the interpretation of EEG/MEG intrinsic activity, and provide insight into the functions of these different oscillations and the networks that produce them. Specifically, our results support theories of the importance of theta oscillations in general cortical function, suggest that alpha activity is primarily related to sensory processing/attention, and demonstrate that beta networks extend far beyond primary sensorimotor regions.

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