EEG alpha map series: brain micro-states by space-oriented adaptive segmentation

Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol. 1987 Sep;67(3):271-88. doi: 10.1016/0013-4694(87)90025-3.


The spontaneous EEG, viewed as a series of momentary scalp field maps, shows stable map configurations (of periodically reversed polarity) for varying durations, and discontinuous changes of the configurations. For adaptive segmentation of map series into spatially stationary epochs, the maps at the times of maximal map relief are selected and spatially described by the two locations of maximal and minimal (extreme) potentials; a segment ends if over time an extreme leaves its pre-set spatial window. Over 6 subjects, the resting alpha EEG showed 210 msec mean segment duration; segments longer than 323 msec covered 50% of the total time; the most prominent segment class (1.5% of all classes) covered 20% of total time (prominence varied strongly over classes; not all possible classes occurred). Spectral power and phase of averages of adaptive and pre-determined segments demonstrated the adequacy of the strategy, and the homogeneity of adaptive segment classes by their reduced within-class variance. It is suggested that different segment classes manifest different brain functional states exerting different effects on information processing. The spatially stationary segments might be basic building blocks of brain information processing, possibly operationalizing consciousness time and offering a common phenomenology for spontaneous activity and event-related potentials. The functional significance of segments might be modes or steps of information processing or performance, tested, e.g., as reaction time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Male