Spontaneous EEG alpha oscillation interacts with positive and negative BOLD responses in the visual–auditory cortices and default-mode network

Stephen D. Mayhew, Dirk Ostwald, Camillo Porcaro, Andrew P. Bagshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)
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The human brain is continually, dynamically active and spontaneous fluctuations in this activity play a functional role in affecting both behavioural and neuronal responses. However, the mechanisms through which this occurs remain poorly understood. Simultaneous EEG–fMRI is a promising technique to study how spontaneous activity modulates the brain's response to stimulation, as temporal indices of ongoing cortical excitability can be integrated with spatially localised evoked responses. Here we demonstrate an interaction between the ongoing power of the electrophysiological alpha oscillation and the magnitude of both positive (PBR) and negative (NBR) fMRI responses to two contrasts of visual checkerboard reversal. Furthermore, the amplitude of pre-stimulus EEG alpha-power significantly modulated the amplitude and shape of subsequent PBR and NBR to the visual stimulus. A nonlinear reduction of visual PBR and an enhancement of auditory NBR and default-mode network NBR were observed in trials preceded by high alpha-power. These modulated areas formed a functionally connected network during a separate resting-state recording. Our findings suggest that the “baseline” state of the brain exhibits considerable trial-to-trial variability which arises from fluctuations in the balance of cortical inhibition/excitation that are represented by respective increases/decreases in the power of the EEG alpha oscillation. The consequence of this spontaneous electrophysiological variability is modulated amplitudes of both PBR and NBR to stimulation. Fluctuations in alpha-power may subserve a functional relationship in the visual–auditory network, acting as mediator for both short and long-range cortical inhibition, the strength of which is represented in part by NBR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-372
Early online date15 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • Single-trial
  • EEG–fMRI
  • Alpha
  • Negative BOLD
  • Default-mode network
  • Neuronal activity


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