High-frequency EEG covaries with spike burst patterns detected in cortical neurons

J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jun;105(6):2951-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00327.2010. Epub 2011 Apr 13.


Invasive microelectrode recordings measure neuronal spikes, which are commonly considered inaccessible through standard surface electroencephalogram (EEG). Yet high-frequency EEG potentials (hf-EEG, f > 400 Hz) found in somatosensory evoked potentials of primates may reflect the mean population spike responses of coactivated cortical neurons. Since cortical responses to electrical nerve stimulation vary strongly from trial to trial, we investigated whether the hf-EEG signal can also echo single-trial variability observed at the single-unit level. We recorded extracellular single-unit activity in the primary somatosensory cortex of behaving macaque monkeys and identified variable spike burst responses following peripheral stimulation. Each of these responses was classified according to the timing of its spike constituents, conforming to one of a discrete set of spike patterns. We here show that these spike patterns are accompanied by variations in the concomitant epidural hf-EEG. These variations cannot be explained by fluctuating stimulus efficacy, suggesting that they were generated within the thalamocortical network. As high-frequency EEG signals can also be reliably recorded from the scalp of human subjects, they may provide a noninvasive window on fluctuating cortical spike activity in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Waves / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness