Published on Fri Aug 20 2021

Alpha blocking and 1/fβ spectral scaling in resting EEG can be accounted for by a sum of damped alpha band oscillatory processes

Evertz, R., Hicks, D. G., Liley, D. T. J.

The dynamical and physiological basis of alpha band activity and 1/f{beta} noise in the EEG are the subject of continued speculation. We conjecture that both of these features may be economically accounted for through a single process if the resting EEG is conceived of being the sum of multiple stochastically perturbed alpha band damped linear oscillators.

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Abstract

The dynamical and physiological basis of alpha band activity and 1/f{beta} noise in the EEG are the subject of continued speculation. Here we conjecture, on the basis of empirical data analysis, that both of these features may be economically accounted for through a single process if the resting EEG is conceived of being the sum of multiple stochastically perturbed alpha band damped linear oscillators with a distribution of dampings (relaxation rates). The modulation of alpha-band and 1/f{beta} noise activity by changes in damping is explored in eyes closed (EC) and eyes open (EO) resting state EEG. We aim to estimate the distribution of dampings by solving an inverse problem applied to EEG power spectra. The characteristics of the damping distribution are examined across subjects, sensors and recording condition (EC/EO). We find that there are robust changes in the damping distribution between EC and EO recording conditions across participants. The estimated damping distributions are found to be predominantly bimodal, with the number and position of the modes related to the sharpness of the alpha resonance and the scaling ({beta}) of the power spectrum (1/f{beta}). The results suggest that there exists an intimate relationship between resting state alpha activity and 1/f{beta} noise with changes in both governed by changes to the damping of the underlying alpha oscillatory processes. In particular, alpha-blocking is observed to be the result of the most weakly damped distribution mode becoming more heavily damped. The results suggest a novel way of characterizing resting EEG power spectra and provides new insight into the central role that damped alpha-band activity may play in characterising the spatio-temporal features of resting state EEG.