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  • Cognitive tasks augment gamma EEG power.

    14 February 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Gamma EEG oscillations are low amplitude rhythms in the 30-100 Hz range that correlate with cognitive task execution. They are usually reported using time-locked averaging of EEG during repetitive tasks. We tested the hypothesis that continuous gamma EEG would be measurable during mental tasks. METHODS: We investigated sustained human gamma EEG oscillations induced by 8 cognitive tasks (Visual Checkerboard, Expectancy, Reading, Subtraction, Music, Expectancy, Word learning, Word recall, and a Video Segment) in 20 subjects using standard digital EEG recording and power spectral analysis. RESULTS: All of the cognitive tasks augmented gamma power relative to a control condition (eyes open watching a blank computer screen). This enhancement was statistically significant at more than one scalp site for all tasks except checkerboard. The Expectancy, Learning, Reading and Subtraction tasks expressed the most impressive gamma response, up to 5 fold above the control condition and there was some task-related specificity of the distribution of increased gamma power, especially in posterior cortex with visual tasks. CONCLUSIONS: Widespread gamma activation of cortical EEG can easily be demonstrated during mental activity. SIGNIFICANCE: These results establish the feasibility of measuring high frequency EEG rhythms with trans-cranial recordings, demonstrate that sustained gamma EEG activity correlates with mentation, and provides evidence consistent with the temporal binding model.

  • Measurement of neural signals from inexpensive, wireless and dry EEG systems.

    7 December 2017

    Electroencephalography (EEG) is challenged by high cost, immobility of equipment and the use of inconvenient conductive gels. We compared EEG recordings obtained from three systems that are inexpensive, wireless, and/or dry (no gel), against recordings made with a traditional, research-grade EEG system, in order to investigate the ability of these 'non-traditional' systems to produce recordings of comparable quality to a research-grade system. The systems compared were: Emotiv EPOC (inexpensive and wireless), B-Alert (wireless), g.Sahara (dry) and g.HIamp (research-grade). We compared the ability of the systems to demonstrate five well-studied neural phenomena: (1) enhanced alpha activity with eyes closed versus open; (2) visual steady-state response (VSSR); (3) mismatch negativity; (4) P300; and (5) event-related desynchronization/synchronization. All systems measured significant alpha augmentation with eye closure, and were able to measure VSSRs (although these were smaller with g.Sahara). The B-Alert and g.Sahara were able to measure the three time-locked phenomena equivalently to the g.HIamp. The Emotiv EPOC did not have suitably located electrodes for two of the tasks and synchronization considerations meant that data from the time-locked tasks were not assessed. The results show that inexpensive, wireless, or dry systems may be suitable for experimental studies using EEG, depending on the research paradigm, and within the constraints imposed by their limited electrode placement and number.

  • Effects of anesthetic agents on seizure-induction with intra-cortical injection of convulsants.

    14 February 2018

    RATIONALE: Studies of partial or generalized seizure pathophysiology often require the use of intact animals. Additionally, anesthesia may be required for ethical reasons or paralysis if instrumental measures require immobilization. We examined three commonly used injected anesthetic for their impact on seizures induced by three convulsant agents. METHODS: We prepared rats, under pentobarbitone anesthesia (65 mg/kg) with a catheter, electrodes and a dural window, for later non-noxious experimentation. Three to seven days later, kainic acid (1.25 μg), picrotoxin (225 ng) or fluorocitrate (0.8 nmol) were injected intra-cortically in animals paralysed with succinylcholine, or anesthetised with pentobarbitone, urethane or fentanyl plus droperidol. We recorded EEG activity, the latencies to seizure discharges, the occurrence of spreading depressions and the presence of movements in response to the convulsants. RESULTS: Fentanyl plus droperidol was the only anesthetic agent permissive for seizure-discharges and spreading depressions. No significant differences in the time for seizure onset for fentanyl plus droperidol compared to paralyzed unanesthetised rats were seen for any of the convulsants (Student's t-test p>0.20). Movements during seizures as well as other drug-induced behaviors continued to be expressed during anesthesia. CONCLUSION: Fentanyl plus droperidol has useful properties as an anesthetic agent in studies of seizure induction with different convulsants.

  • Relation of gamma oscillations in scalp recordings to muscular activity.

    14 February 2018

    We recorded scalp electrical activity before and after full neuro-muscular paralysis in 5 volunteers and determined differences due to elimination of muscular activity on several standard applications of EEG. Due to paralysis, there were reductions in 'noisiness' of the standard scalp recordings which were maximal over the peripheral scalp, not explained by abolition of movement artefact, and best accounted for by sustained EMG activity in resting individuals. There was a corresponding reduction in spectral power in the gamma range. In central leads, the extent of gamma frequency coherence during a non-time-locked mental task (1 s epochs) was reduced by paralysis, likely due to a reduction in gamma-frequency coherence in widely arising EMG signals. In a time-locked mental task (auditory oddball), evoked responses were qualitatively unaffected by paralysis but 3 of 4 induced gamma responses were obscured by EMG.

  • Removal of EEG noise and artifact using blind source separation.

    14 February 2018

    A study was performed to investigate and compare the relative performance of blind signal separation (BSS) algorithms at separating common types of contamination from EEG. The study develops a novel framework for investigating and comparing the relative performance of BSS algorithms that incorporates a realistic EEG simulation with a known mixture of known signals and an objective performance metric. The key finding is that although BSS is an effective and powerful tool for separating and removing contamination from EEG, the quality of the separation is highly dependant on the type of contamination, the degree of contamination, and the choice of BSS algorithm. BSS appears to be most effective at separating muscle and blink contamination and less effective at saccadic and tracking contamination. For all types of contamination, principal components analysis is a strong performer when the contamination is greater in amplitude than the brain signal whereas other algorithms such as second-order blind inference and Infomax are generally better for specific types of contamination of lower amplitude.

  • Thinking activates EMG in scalp electrical recordings.

    14 February 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Fast electrical rhythms in the gamma range (30-100Hz) in scalp (but not intracranial) recordings are predominantly due to electromyographic (EMG) activity. We hypothesized that increased EMG activity would be augmented by mental tasks in proportion to task difficulty and the requirement of these tasks for motor or visuo-motor output. METHODS: EEG was recorded in 98 subjects whilst performing cognitive tasks and analysed to generate power spectra. In four other subjects, neuromuscular blockade was achieved pharmacologically providing EMG-free spectra of EEG at rest and during mental tasks. RESULTS: In comparison to the paralysed condition, power of scalp electrical recordings in the gamma range varied in distribution, being maximal adjacent to cranial or cervical musculature. There were non-significant changes in mean gamma range activity due to mental tasks in paralysed subjects. In normal subjects, increases in scalp electrical activity were observed during tasks, without relationship to task difficulty, but with tasks involving limb- or eye-movement having higher power. CONCLUSIONS: Electrical rhythms in the gamma frequency range recorded from the scalp are inducible by mental activity and are largely due to EMG un-related to cognitive effort. EMG varies with requirements for somatic or ocular movement more than task difficulty. SIGNIFICANCE: Severe restrictions exist on utilizing scalp recordings for high frequency EEG.

  • Automatic determination of EMG-contaminated components and validation of independent component analysis using EEG during pharmacologic paralysis.

    20 December 2017

    OBJECTIVE: Validate independent component analysis (ICA) for removal of EMG contamination from EEG, and demonstrate a heuristic, based on the gradient of EEG spectra (slope of graph of log EEG power vs log frequency, 7-70 Hz) from paralysed awake humans, to automatically identify and remove components that are predominantly EMG. METHODS: We studied the gradient of EMG-free EEG spectra to quantitatively inform the choice of threshold. Then, pre-existing EEG from 3 disparate experimental groups was examined before and after applying the heuristic to validate that the heuristic preserved neurogenic activity (Berger effect, auditory odd ball, visual and auditory steady state responses). RESULTS: (1) ICA-based EMG removal diminished EMG contamination up to approximately 50 Hz, (2) residual EMG contamination using automatic selection was similar to manual selection, and (3) task-induced cortical activity remained, was enhanced, or was revealed using the ICA-based methodology. CONCLUSION: This study further validates ICA as a powerful technique for separating and removing myogenic signals from EEG. Automatic processing based on spectral gradients to exclude EMG-containing components is a conceptually simple and valid technique. SIGNIFICANCE: This study strengthens ICA as a technique to remove EMG contamination from EEG whilst preserving neurogenic activity to 50 Hz.

  • Surface Laplacian of central scalp electrical signals is insensitive to muscle contamination.

    14 February 2018

    The objective of this paper was to investigate the effects of surface Laplacian processing on gross and persistent electromyographic (EMG) contamination of electroencephalographic (EEG) signals in electrical scalp recordings. We made scalp recordings during passive and active tasks, on awake subjects in the absence and in the presence of complete neuromuscular blockade. Three scalp surface Laplacian estimators were compared to left ear and common average reference (CAR). Contamination was quantified by comparing power after paralysis (brain signal, B) with power before paralysis (brain plus muscle signal, B+M). Brain:Muscle (B:M) ratios for the methods were calculated using B and differences in power after paralysis to represent muscle (M). There were very small power differences after paralysis up to 600 Hz using surface Laplacian transforms (B:M > 6 above 30 Hz in central scalp leads). Scalp surface Laplacian transforms reduce muscle power in central and pericentral leads to less than one sixth of the brain signal, two to three times better signal detection than CAR. Scalp surface Laplacian transformations provide robust estimates for detecting high-frequency (gamma) activity, for assessing electrophysiological correlates of disease, and also for providing a measure of brain electrical activity for use as a standard in the development of brain/muscle signal separation methods.

  • Persistent abnormality detected in the non-ictal electroencephalogram in primary generalised epilepsy.

    28 January 2018

    OBJECTIVES: Gamma oscillations (30-100 Hz gamma electroencephalographic (EEG) activity) correlate with high frequency synchronous rhythmic bursting in assemblies of cerebral neurons participating in aspects of consciousness. Previous studies in a kainic acid animal model of epilepsy revealed increased intensity of gamma rhythms in background EEG preceding epileptiform discharges, leading the authors to test for intensified gamma EEG in humans with epilepsy. METHODS: 64 channel cortical EEG were recorded from 10 people with primary generalised epilepsy, 11 with partial epilepsy, and 20 controls during a quiescent mental state. Using standard methods of EEG analysis the strength of EEG rhythms (fast Fourier transformation) was quantified and the strengths of rhythms in the patient groups compared with with controls by unpaired t test at 1 Hz intervals from 1 Hz to 100 Hz. RESULTS: In patients with generalised epilepsy, there was a threefold to sevenfold increase in power of gamma EEG between 30 Hz and 100 Hz (p<0.01). Analysis of three unmedicated patients with primary generalised epilepsies revealed an additional 10-fold narrow band increase of power around 35 Hz-40 Hz (p<0.0001). There were no corresponding changes in patients with partial epilepsy. CONCLUSIONS: Increased gamma EEG is probably a marker of the underlying ion channel or neurotransmitter receptor dysfunction in primary generalised epilepsies and may also be a pathophysiological prerequisite for the development of seizures. The finding provides a new diagnostic approach and also links the pathophysiology of generalised epilepsies to emerging concepts of neuronal correlates of consciousness.

  • Investigating the generators of the scalp recorded visuo-verbal P300 using cortically constrained source localization.

    28 January 2018

    Considerable ambiguity exists about the generators of the scalp recorded P300, despite a vast body of research employing a diverse range of methodologies. Previous investigations employing source localization techniques have been limited largely to equivalent current dipole models, with most studies identifying medial temporal and/or hippocampal sources, but providing little information about the contribution of other cortical regions to the generation of the scalp recorded P3. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 5 subjects using a 124-channel sensor array during the performance of a visuo-verbal Oddball task. Cortically constrained, MRI-guided boundary element modeling was used to identify the cortical generators of this target P3 in individual subjects. Cortical generators of the P3 were localized principally to the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and surrounding superior parietal lobes (SPL) bilaterally in all subjects, though with some variability across subjects. Two subjects also showed activity in the lingual/inferior occipital gyrus and mid-fusiform gyrus. A group cortical surface was calculated by non-linear warping of each subject's segmented cortex followed by averaging and creation of a group mesh. Source activity identified across the group reflected the individual subject activations in the IPS and SPL bilaterally and in the lingual/inferior occipital gyrus primarily on the left. Activation of IPS and SPL is interpreted to reflect the role of this region in working memory and related attention processes and visuo-motor integration. The activity in left lingual/inferior occipital gyrus is taken to reflect activation of regions associated with modality-specific analysis of visual word forms.