Causality in the association between P300 and alpha event-related desynchronization

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34163. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034163. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


Recent findings indicated that both P300 and alpha event-related desynchronization (α-ERD) were associated, and similarly involved in cognitive brain functioning, e.g., attention allocation and memory updating. However, an explicit causal influence between the neural generators of P300 and α-ERD has not yet been investigated. In the present study, using an oddball task paradigm, we assessed the task effect (target vs. non-target) on P300 and α-ERD elicited by stimuli of four sensory modalities, i.e., audition, vision, somatosensory, and pain, estimated their respective neural generators, and investigated the information flow among their neural generators using time-varying effective connectivity in the target condition. Across sensory modalities, the scalp topographies of P300 and α-ERD were similar and respectively maximal at parietal and occipital regions in the target condition. Source analysis revealed that P300 and α-ERD were mainly generated from posterior cingulate cortex and occipital lobe respectively. As revealed by time-varying effective connectivity, the cortical information was consistently flowed from α-ERD sources to P300 sources in the target condition for all four sensory modalities. All these findings showed that P300 in the target condition is modulated by the changes of α-ERD, which would be useful to explore neural mechanism of cognitive information processing in the human brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition
  • Cortical Synchronization / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain
  • Photic Stimulation