Infra-slow fluctuations in electrophysiological recordings, blood-oxygenation-level-dependent signals, and psychophysical time series

Neuroimage. 2012 Oct 1;62(4):2201-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.060. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Converging electrophysiological and neuroimaging data show that mammalian brain dynamics are governed by spontaneous modulations of neuronal activity levels in cortical and subcortical structures. The time scales of these fluctuations form a continuum from seconds to tens and hundreds of seconds corresponding to slow (0.1-1Hz), infra-slow (0.01-0.1Hz), and "ultradian" (<0.01Hz) frequency bands, respectively. We focus here on the spontaneous neuronal dynamics in the infra-slow frequency band, infra-slow fluctuations (ISFs), and explore their electrophysiological substrates and behavioral correlates. Although electrophysiological ISFs and the associated infra-slow modulations of fast (here, >1Hz) neuronal activities have been recognized on numerous occasions since late 50's, a resurgence in interest towards this frequency band has been driven by a discovery that ISFs in blood-oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signals are correlated among specific constellations of brain regions, which constitute intrinsic connectivity networks and define the dynamic architecture of spontaneous brain activity at large. Importantly, electrophysiological and BOLD signal ISFs are directly correlated both with ISFs in amplitudes of fast neuronal activities and with ISFs in behavioral performance. Moreover, both electrophysiological and neuroimaging data suggest that the apparently scale-free ISFs may arise from more local quasi-periodic infra-slow oscillations with a contribution of time-scale-specific cellular-level mechanisms. We conclude that ISFs in electrophysiological recordings, BOLD signals, neuronal activity levels, and behavioral time series are likely to reflect the same underlying phenomenon; a superstructure of interacting and transiently oscillatory ISFs that regulate both the integration within and decoupling between concurrently active neuronal communities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / blood


  • Oxygen