High-frequency gamma oscillations and human brain mapping with electrocorticography

Prog Brain Res. 2006:159:275-95. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(06)59019-3.


Invasive EEG recordings with depth and/or subdural electrodes are occasionally necessary for the surgical management of patients with epilepsy refractory to medications. In addition to their vital clinical utility, electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the electrophysiological correlates of functional brain activation in greater detail than non-invasive recordings. The proximity of ECoG electrodes to the cortical sources of EEG activity enhances their spatial resolution, as well as their sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio, particularly for high-frequency EEG activity. ECoG recordings have, therefore, been used to study the event-related dynamics of brain oscillations in a variety of frequency ranges, and in a variety of functional-neuroanatomic systems, including somatosensory and somatomotor systems, visual and auditory perceptual systems, and cortical networks responsible for language. These ECoG studies have confirmed and extended the original non-invasive observations of ERD/ERS phenomena in lower frequencies, and have discovered novel event-related responses in gamma frequencies higher than those previously observed in non-invasive recordings. In particular, broadband event-related gamma responses greater than 60 Hz, extending up to approximately 200 Hz, have been observed in a variety of functional brain systems. The observation of these "high gamma" responses requires a recording system with an adequate sampling rate and dynamic range (we use 1000 Hz at 16-bit A/D resolution) and is facilitated by event-related time-frequency analyses of the recorded signals. The functional response properties of high-gamma activity are distinct from those of ERD/ERS phenomena in lower frequencies. In particular, the timing and spatial localization of high-gamma ERS often appear to be more specific to the putative timing and localization of functional brain activation than alpha or beta ERD/ERS. These findings are consistent with the proposed role of synchronized gamma oscillations in models of neural computation, which have in turn been inspired by observations of gamma activity in animal preparations, albeit at somewhat lower frequencies. Although ECoG recordings cannot directly measure the synchronization of action potentials among assemblies of neurons, they may demonstrate event-related interactions between gamma oscillations in macroscopic local field potentials (LFP) generated by different large-scale populations of neurons engaged by the same functional task. Indeed, preliminary studies suggest that such interactions do occur in gamma frequencies, including high-gamma frequencies, at latencies consistent with the timing of task performance. The neuronal mechanisms underlying high-gamma activity and its unique response properties in humans are still largely unknown, but their investigation through invasive methods is expected to facilitate and expand their potential clinical and research applications, including functional brain mapping, brain-computer interfaces, and neurophysiological studies of human cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography