Low voltage alpha EEG phenotype is associated with reduced amplitudes of alpha event-related oscillations, increased cortical phase synchrony, and a low level of response to alcohol

Int J Psychophysiol. 2015 Oct;98(1):65-75. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Jul 4.


Low voltage EEG (LVEEG) is a heritable phenotype that differs depending on ancestral heritage, yet its impact on brain networks and cognition remain relatively unexplored. In this study we assessed energy and task related phase locking of event-related oscillation (EROs), behavioral responses, measures of IQ and personality, and expected responses to alcohol in a large sample of individuals with LVEEG compared to those with higher voltage variants. Participants (n=762) were recruited from a Native American community and completed a diagnostic interview, the Quick Test, the Subjective High Assessment Scale Expectation Version (SHAS-E) and the Maudsley Personality Inventory. Clinical and spectral analyzed EEGs were collected for determination of the presence of a LVEEG variant. EROs were generated using a facial expression recognition task. Participants with LVEEG (n=451) were significantly more likely to be older, married and have higher degrees of Native American heritage but did not differ in gender, income or education. Individuals with LVEEG were also found to have decreased energy in their alpha EROs, increased phase locking between stimulus trials, and increased phase-locking between cortical brain areas. No significant differences in the cognitive tests, personality variables or alcohol dependence or anxiety diagnoses were found, however, individuals with LVEEG did report a larger number of drinks ever consumed in a 24-h period and a less intense expected response to alcohol. These data suggest that alpha power in the resting EEG is highly associated with energy and cortical connectivity measures generated by event-related stimuli, as well as potentially increased risk for alcohol use.

Keywords: EEG phase synchrony; Event-related oscillations; Event-related potentials; Low voltage EEG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Alpha Rhythm / drug effects*
  • Biological Clocks / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electroencephalography
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects
  • Phenotype
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol