Correlates of a single cortical action potential in the epidural EEG

Neuroimage. 2015 Apr 1;109:357-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.12.057. Epub 2014 Dec 30.


To identify the correlates of a single cortical action potential in surface EEG, we recorded simultaneously epidural EEG and single-unit activity in the primary somatosensory cortex of awake macaque monkeys. By averaging over EEG segments coincident with more than hundred thousand single spikes, we found short-lived (≈ 0.5 ms) triphasic EEG deflections dominated by high-frequency components >800 Hz. The peak-to-peak amplitude of the grand-averaged spike correlate was 80 nV, which matched theoretical predictions, while single-neuron amplitudes ranged from 12 to 966 nV. Combining these estimates with post-stimulus-time histograms of single-unit responses to median-nerve stimulation allowed us to predict the shape of the evoked epidural EEG response and to estimate the number of contributing neurons. These findings establish spiking activity of cortical neurons as a primary building block of high-frequency epidural EEG, which thus can serve as a quantitative macroscopic marker of neuronal spikes.

Keywords: EEG; Single-unit activity; Somatosensory cortex; Spike-triggered average.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Dura Mater
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*