Trial-by-trial coupling between EEG and BOLD identifies networks related to alpha and theta EEG power increases during working memory maintenance

Neuroimage. 2009 Feb 1;44(3):1224-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.08.041. Epub 2008 Sep 18.


PET and fMRI experiments have previously shown that several brain regions in the frontal and parietal lobe are involved in working memory maintenance. MEG and EEG experiments have shown parametric increases with load for oscillatory activity in posterior alpha and frontal theta power. In the current study we investigated whether the areas found with fMRI can be associated with these alpha and theta effects by measuring simultaneous EEG and fMRI during a modified Sternberg task This allowed us to correlate EEG at the single trial level with the fMRI BOLD signal by forming a regressor based on single trial alpha and theta power estimates. We observed a right posterior, parametric alpha power increase, which was functionally related to decreases in BOLD in the primary visual cortex and in the posterior part of the right middle temporal gyrus. We relate this finding to the inhibition of neuronal activity that may interfere with WM maintenance. An observed parametric increase in frontal theta power was correlated to a decrease in BOLD in regions that together form the default mode network. We did not observe correlations between oscillatory EEG phenomena and BOLD in the traditional WM areas. In conclusion, the study shows that simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings can be successfully used to identify the emergence of functional networks in the brain during the execution of a cognitive task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*