Prestimulus alpha and mu activity predicts failure to inhibit motor responses

Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Jun;30(6):1791-800. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20763.


Do certain brain states predispose humans to commit errors in monotonous tasks? We used MEG to investigate how oscillatory brain activity indexes the brain state in subjects performing a Go-noGo task. Elevated occipital alpha and sensorimotor mu activity just prior to the presentation of the stimuli predicted an upcoming error. An error resulted in increased frontal theta activity and decreased posterior alpha activity. This theta increase and alpha decrease correlated on a trial-by-trial basis reflecting post-error functional connectivity between the frontal and occipital regions. By examining the state of the brain before a stimulus, we were able to show that it is possible to predict lapses of attention before they actually occur. This supports the case that the state of the brain is important for how incoming stimuli are processed and for how subjects respond.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult