Beta power in the EEG of alcoholics

Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Oct 15;52(8):831-42. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(02)01362-8.


Background: In this study, the magnitude and spatial distribution of beta power in the resting electroencephalogram (EEG) were examined to address the possibility of an excitation-inhibition imbalance in the central nervous system of alcoholics.

Methods: Log transformed absolute power in the Beta 1 (12.5-16 Hz), Beta 2 (16.5-20 Hz), and Beta 3 (20.5-28 Hz) bands in the eyes-closed EEG of 307 alcohol-dependent subjects and 307 unaffected age- and gender-matched control subjects were compared using a multivariate repeated measures design. Effect of gender, age, and drinking variables was examined separately.

Results: Increased Beta 1 (12.5-16 Hz) and Beta 2 (16.5-20 Hz) absolute power was observed in alcohol-dependent subjects at all loci over the scalp. The increase was most prominent in the central region. Increased Beta 3 (20.5-28 Hz) power was frontal in the alcoholics. Age and clinical variables did not influence the increase. Male alcoholics had significantly higher beta power in all three bands. In female alcoholics the increase did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: Beta power in all three bands of resting EEG is elevated in alcoholics. This feature is more prominent in male alcoholics. The increased beta power in the resting EEG may be an electrophysiological index of the imbalance in the excitation-inhibition homeostasis in the cortex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Beta Rhythm
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors