Oscillatory brain states interact with late cognitive components of the somatosensory evoked potential

J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Sep 30;183(1):49-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.06.036. Epub 2009 Jul 7.


The question of interaction between ongoing neuronal activity and evoked responses has been addressed for different species, sensory systems and measurement modalities. Among other findings, there is converging evidence for an interaction of occipital alpha-rhythm amplitude with the visual evoked potential. Here, we test the hypothesis that the modulatory role of an ongoing rhythm might not be confined to the visual system and the occipital alpha rhythm, but instead may be generalized to other sensory systems. Using an online EEG analysis approach, we investigated the influence of the Rolandic alpha-rhythm on the somatosensory evoked potential (SEP). We triggered vibrotactile stimulation during periods of high Rolandic alpha-rhythm amplitude. Analysis revealed significant effects of pre-stimulus Rolandic alpha amplitude on the amplitude of the N140 and P260 components of the SEP, known to be linked to cognitive processing, but not on early sensory components. The N140-P260 complex shows a different focus in topography than the early sensory components and the pre-stimulus Rolandic alpha rhythm. These results indicate an involvement of Rolandic alpha-rhythm in higher cognitive processing. In more general terms--and in the context of similar studies in the visual system--our findings suggest that modulation of late EP components by ongoing rhythms might be a characteristic and possibly universal feature of sensory systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fourier Analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reaction Time
  • Touch / physiology
  • Young Adult