The best of both worlds: phase-reset of human EEG alpha activity and additive power contribute to ERP generation

Byoung-Kyong Min, Niko A Busch, Stefan Debener, Cornelia Kranczioch, Simon Hanslmayr, Andreas K Engel, Christoph S Herrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Some authors have proposed that event-related potentials (ERPs) are generated by a neuronal response which is additive to and independent of ongoing activity, others demonstrated that they are generated by partial phase-resetting of ongoing activity. We investigated the relationship between event-related oscillatory activity in the alpha band and prestimulus levels of ongoing alpha activity on ERPs. EEG was recorded from 23 participants performing a visual discrimination task. Individuals were assigned to one of three groups according to the amount of prestimulus total alpha activity, and distinct differences of the event-related EEG dynamics between groups were observed. While all groups exhibited an event-related increase in phase-locked (evoked) alpha activity, only individuals with sustained prestimulus alpha activity showed alpha-blocking, that is, a considerable decrease of poststimulus non-phase-locked alpha activity. In contrast, individuals without observable prestimulus total alpha activity showed a concurrent increase of phase-locked and non-phase-locked alpha activity after stimulation. Data from this group seems to be in favor of an additive event-related neuronal response without alpha-blocking. However, the dissociable EEG dynamics of total and evoked alpha activities together with a complementary simulation analysis indicated a partial event-related reorganization of ongoing brain activity. We conclude that both partial phase-resetting and partial additive power contribute dynamically to the generation of ERPs. The prestimulus brain state exerts a prominent influence on event-related brain responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-68
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Discrimination (Psychology)
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Visual Perception


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