Stimulus-induced changes in 1/f-like background activity in EEG

Gyurkovics, M., Clements, G. M., Low, K. A., Fabiani, M. and Gratton, G. (2022) Stimulus-induced changes in 1/f-like background activity in EEG. Journal of Neuroscience, 42(37), pp. 7144-7151. (doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.0414-22.2022) (PMID:35970561)

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Research into the nature of 1/f-like, nonoscillatory electrophysiological activity has grown exponentially in recent years in cognitive neuroscience. The shape of this activity has been linked to the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neural circuits, which is thought to be important for information processing. However, to date, it is not known whether the presentation of a stimulus induces changes in the parameters of 1/f activity in scalp recordings, separable from event-related potentials (ERPs). Here, we analyzed event-related broadband changes in human EEG both before and after removing ERPs to demonstrate their confounding effect, and to establish whether there are genuine stimulus-induced changes in 1/f. Using data from a passive and an active auditory task (n = 23, 61% female), we found that the shape of the post-event spectra between 2 and 25 Hz differed significantly from the pre-event spectra even after removing the frequency-content of ERPs. Further, a significant portion of this difference could be accounted for by a rotational shift in 1/f activity, manifesting as an increase in low and a decrease in high frequencies. Importantly, the magnitude of this rotational shift was related to the attentional demands of the task. This change in 1/f is consistent with increased inhibition following stimulus onset, and likely reflects a disruption of ongoing excitatory activity proportional to processing demands. Finally, these findings contradict the central assumption of baseline normalization strategies in time-frequency analyses, namely, that background EEG activity is stationary across time. As such, they have far-reaching consequences relevant for several subfields of neuroscience.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gyurkovics, Dr Mate
Authors: Gyurkovics, M., Clements, G. M., Low, K. A., Fabiani, M., and Gratton, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Journal of Neuroscience
Publisher:The Society for Neuroscience
ISSN (Online):1529-2401
Published Online:15 August 2022

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