Electroencephalography (EEG) Interpretation of Waves, including Sleep Waves, Effects of Medications and Neurological Conditions
Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive
electrophysiological method to measure the electrical activity of the brain. We
can compare it with echocardiography of the heart that measures the electrical
activity of the heart.
EEG measures voltage
fluctuations resulting from ionic current within the neurons of the brain.
Clinically, it refers to the recording of the brain's spontaneous electrical
activity over a period, as recorded from multiple electrodes placed on the
Event-related potentials: These investigate
potential fluctuations time-locked to an event, such as 'stimulus onset' or
Spectral content: This analyses the type of neural
oscillations (popularly called "brain waves") that can be observed in
EEG signals in the frequency domain.
Most often we use EEG
to diagnose epilepsy. It is also used to diagnose
Depth of anaesthesia
In the past, they would use it to diagnose tumours, stroke, and other focal brain disorders.
These are 1-4 Hz waves which we can
detect frontally in adults, posteriorly in children, and during slow-wave sleep
and in babies. These waves should not be present when awake; presence while
awake strongly suggests pathology.
4-8Hz, generalised. Young children,
drowsy and sleeping adults, with certain medications, meditation. We see a
small amount in awake adults, an excessive amount when awake may show
pathology. Theta waves have a 4-7 Hz frequency.
Transient theta components encountered in 15 % of the normal population.
These are 8-12 Hz waves that we
identify posteriorly when the subject is relaxed and when the eyes are closed whilst
12-30Hz, frontally. When busy or
concentrating. principally fronto-lateral. Anxiety,
alcohol, and drugs (barbiturates, benzodiazepines may enhance these)
12-14Hz, frontal and central
Bursts of oscillatory activity that
occur in stage 2 sleep. Along with K-complexes, they are the defining
characteristic of stage 2 sleep.
30-100 Hz. Meditation
These are prominent over the
occipital region. Alpha waves are accentuated by eye-closure. Attention
attenuates them. A consistent difference of 1 Hz or more between hemispheres is
pathological. We see slowing in early phenytoin toxicity.
These are arch-like, 7-11 Hz waves that we can notice over precentral areas—which are the motor areas. Mu waves relate to
motor activity. They are attenuated
by contralateral limb movements and increase when a person is at rest.
Lambda waves are single sharp waves
that we see in the occipital region on the electroencephalograph. Usually,
these are associated with visual ‘scanning’ and is related to ocular movements
during visual attention. These occurs when eyes are open.
Vertex waves are electronegative
sharp waves over the vertex that an auditory stimulus evokes.
Findings in Neurological Conditions
In patients with sporadic CJD, early-on
there are nonspecific slowing. Later in the course, they may have periodic
biphasic and triphasic synchronous sharp wave complexes superimposed on a slow
In patients with delirium, there is a
diffuse slowing of background activity, decreased alpha, increased theta and
delta activity. The diffuse slowing correlates inversely with the severity of
the clinical symptoms.
Initial interictal EEG is abnormal in 50-75 %, with repeated recordings,
90-95 % will show abnormalities. 2 % of the normal population have abnormalities
considered to be epileptiform.
Generalised, bilateral, synchronous,
3 Hz spike-and-wave pattern occurs in children and 4 Hz spike-and-wave in
juveniles with absence seizures.
epilepsy Primary generalized tonic-clonic
Bursts of sharp spikes (25-30 Hz) and wave pattern during the ictal stage is diagnostically significant for generalized epilepsy. There is 10 Hz fast activity during the tonic phase and lower-frequency spike and wave complexes during the clonic phase. Generalized-slowing delta-range characterizes the postictal stage.
In people with partial or focal
epilepsy, focal spikes or
sharp waves occur during the interictal state. When the patient is seizing,
focal rhythmic discharges and periodic complexes occur.
Generalised polyspike and wave
activity. This can help for example, in patients who are on clozapine, where
myoclonic seizures often develop before they proceed to generalised seizures.
Encephalopathy: Diffuse slowing
Delirium Tremens: Compared to delirium
due to other causes, patients with delirium tremens have a hyperactive trace,
Alzheimer's disease: Reduced alpha and
beta, increased delta, and theta
Huntingdon’s Disease: In Huntington’s
disease, patients have low-voltage waves and there are no alpha waves
Normal ageing: Diffuse slowing, which
can be focal or diffuse, if focal most seen in the left temporal region
polymorphic, arrhythmic, unreactive
delta, periodic lateralized epileptiform discharges
Herpes simplex encephalitis
CJD (in late stages)
subacute sclerosing panencephalitis
liver, renal hypoxia, or metabolic
Frontal intermittent rhythmic delta
brain stem dysfunction
Rhythmic slowing, occasionally periodic
discharges, Widespread, non-reactive alpha-range activity
Burst suppression, High-voltage bursts,
followed by periods of extreme suppression. Occurs within bi-hemispheric
insult and deep anaesthesia
Personality disorder: increased slow
waves (theta) in 31-58 % of psychopaths. Changes more right-sided ‘positive
spike’ seen in 40-45 % of aggressive and impulsive psychopaths
Anxiety: Increased beta activity
Hypnosis: Like the normal relaxed,
Effects of Medications on Electroencephalography Rhythms
Slowing alpha waves, reduction of beta waves; increase other
have variable effects (b)
beta, decrease alpha (d)
Increased delta, decreased beta
Increased fast wave (beta) activity
beta (i.e. Fast wave)
Increased fast wave
a) Which can be focal or
diffuse, if focal most seen in the left temporal region
b) Clozapine has the most
significant effect while quetiapine least has the
significant. Clozapine > Olanzapine > Risperidone >
Typical > Quetiapine
i.e., increases the slow-wave activity
Waves on Electroencephalography
In stage 1 sleep, alpha waves
disappear while desynchronised theta and delta activity appear.
Low-voltages and delta waves with
sleep spindles and K complexes are the characteristic waves that occur during
High-voltage slow-waves appear
during stage 3 of sleep. Less than 50% are delta waves. Sleep spindles and K
During this stage, which we also
know as slow-wave-sleep, delta waves grow over 50%. Sleep spindles and K
We place electrodes according to the
International 10-20 System, which entails measurements from:
- The nasion
- The inion
- The right auricular depression
- The left auricular depression
sphenoidal electrodes (between the
mandibular coronoid notch and the zygoma) can obtain readings from the inferior
nasopharyngeal leads (in the
superior part of the nasopharynx) can get readings from the inferior and medial
Amplitudes range from 5 to 150 μV
Frequencies range from 1 to 40 Hz
Spikes are transient tall peaks that
last less than 80 ms
Sharp waves rise rapidly, fall more slowly, and last over eighty milliseconds
Infants have slower and higher
amplitude rhythms. Initially, this is asynchronous and easily disturbing;
mature rhythms develop between 2 and 6 years. Adults usually show either alpha
posteriorly or beta anteriorly, but generalised low-amplitude beta may be
These are present in all populations
by puberty. When the subject is drowsy, alpha becomes intermittent and theta
appears. In old age, alpha frequency slows, and delta activity is lower.
What are the benefits of electroencephalography (EEG)
It has excellent time-resolution. Cognitive, perceptual, linguistic, emotional, and motor processes are fast and dynamic. For example, consider theta-band (4-8 Hz), rhythm but quiet for our conscious experience. Or consider gamma (30-80 Hz). A direct indicator of neuronal activity Multidimensional (time, space, frequency, power, phase (temporal), connectivity. Portability (observing the brain in action). Inexpensive + advanced analysis techniques on time series, e.g. single-trial classification methods using Fourier transform.
Limitations of EEG
It is not well-suited for precise functional localization. It is not well-suited for measuring deep brain structures (e.g., putamen, thalamus, nucleus accumbens). Sub-optimal method: in the brain, where does process X occur or is information Y stored. It is also not very well-suited to study very slowly fluctuating process 'infra-slow' with uncertain and variable time course (but fMRI is)from Joy Interpretation issues:1) suffers from interpreting null results absence of proof is not the proof of absence.> ERP does not reveal all of EEG information (single trial)> ERP does not capture non-phase locked responses2) ERP limited opportunity for linking results to actual neurophysiological dynamics > ERP less understood than oscillatory (is formed) and synchronous.
What type of neuronal activity does EEG capture?
postsynaptic potentials as opposed to action potential
What does EEG reflect?
EEG reflects the differences in electrical potential over time, created by the current flows originating from neuronal populations
What are chemical synapses?
Chemical synapses cause local changes in postsynaptic membrane potentials, through neurotransmitters. Information transmits with some delay about a millisecond.
What are the electrical synapses?
Electrical synapses or gap junctions. Ions flow directly through large channels into adjacent cells, with no time delay.
What is Postsynaptic Potential (PSP)?
An electrical potential started at a postsynaptic site that can vary in amplitude and spreads passively across the cell membrane, decreasing in strength with time and distance.
How is a postsynaptic potential generated?
When AP reaches the presynaptic axon end, it releases a neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft. The neurotransmitter binds to the receptor of the postsynaptic neuron by opening or closing an ion channel. This led to a graded change in membrane potential.
What two types of postsynaptic potential are there?
Two types of PSP Excitatory PSP (for excitatory synapse)
Inhibitory PSP (for inhibitory synapse)
what it requires for a postsynaptic neuron to fire?
A postsynaptic neuron will fire an action potential if a depolarization that exceeds the threshold reaches its axon hillock. It requires the combined effect of many excitatory synapses for a postsynaptic neuron to fire.
What are the two types of summation?
spatial and temporal
What is the spatial summation?
Is the summing of potentials that come from distinct parts of the cell? If the overall sum of EPSPs and IPSPs can depolarize the cell at the axon hillock, an action potential will occur.
What is temporal summation?
Temporal summation is the summing of potentials that arrive at the axon hillock at contrasting times. The closer together in time that they arrive, the greater the summation and possibility of an action potential.
What are EEG signals then?
EEG signals are primarily produced by the summation of postsynaptic potentials of millions of neurons summed millions of neurons/ firing in phase aggregated millions of PSPs 'note: EEG does not measure action potential
How is the AP aligned?
geometrically and in phase
What is EEG less sensitive to?
It is less sensitive to deep brain structures. Field strength decreases exponentially with distance. Neuronal populations in deeper structures are not arranged in a geometrically parallel fashion.
What EEG cannot measure?
It cannot measure individual molecular or synaptic events, nor it can isolate events that are produced by a specific neurotransmitter or neuromodulator. It is not very suitable to measure to slow (< 0.1 Hz) or very high (> 100 Hz) fluctuations.
What are electrodes made from?
Silver electrodes with a thin coating of silver- chloride, Tin Electrodes, Gold-cap Electrodes
The conductivity should be good between the electrode and the scalp, how?
Gel to reduce the impedance/resistance “Impedance below 5 Kilo Ohms Scalp preparation (removal of dead skin cells)also: Active Electrodes Integrated preamplifier. Faster preparation time.
How many electrodes?
Traditional 19 Standard 32-64 (sufficient). High-density 128-256 (or more)
What are the pros of having more electrodes?
better spatial sampling better source reconstruction
What are the cons of having more electrodes?
long prep time electrolyte bridge poorer signal quality
What is an electrolyte bridge?
When the gel creates a short circuit between closely placed electrodes.
It amplifies the signal. Why and using what?
It amplifies the signal from a few ¼ Volts to a few Volts. The amplification is done by Differential Amplifiers.
What electrodes are associated with amplification?
Three electrodes: Active Electrode (A) placed at the desired site. Reference Electrode (R) placed elsewhere on the scalp Ground Electrode (G) placed elsewhere on the scalp/body. Elimination of ambient noise â€¢ Works best when impedances are the same (low) for A and Râ€¢ Amplifier gain: 5-10 Ka. The optimal gain depends on the input potential and output range.
What are the usual reference sites?
Preferably a neutral site (tip of the nose, the earlobes, the mastoids, the chin, etc). Three practical criteria: Choose the site that is convenient and comfortable. Choose a site that does not induce hemispheric bias. Choose a site used by other researchers in your fields. Mostly used neutral references: the average of two earlobes average of two mastoids. Other referencing scheme: “Average of all electrodes Current source density maps Reference free method. Requires high-density recordings€¢ Less accurate for boundary electrodes Insensitive to deep sources Laplacia
What is aliasing?
When we are sampling a system (brain) with a sampling freq less than twice the maximum freq of interest. Because we monitor frame by frame - but at what rate? If it is not as fast as the original, then it is a POOR representation, as we haven't sampled enough to capture the information in the actual sample. Nyquist Criterion - sample at least twice as fast as the maximum freq (Sampling frequency (fs) should satisfy Nyquist Criterion fs > 2 fmax (fmax max. frequency of interest)This can be something like x5 the maximum - if we want to do alpha etc.
Why would we need to filter the signal?
to reduce artifacts
What filters are applicable?
Low pass High Pass Band pass band stop, notch
What is a high-pass filter?
0.5 Hz (or 0.1 Hz for slow brain responses)
What is a low-pass filter?
What is a notch filter (band stop)
50 Hz (for removing power line noise; 60 Hz in the USA)
We need to xxx analogue to xxxx
convert - digital
what resolution is EEG
16/24 bit Resolution (216 or 16192 different voltage values can be coded by the ADC)
What is aliasing?
When we are sampling a system (brain) with a sampling freq less than twice the maximum freq of interest.Because we monitor frame by frame - but what rate? If it is not as fast as the original, then it is a POOR representation, as we haven't sampled enough to capture the information in the actual sample.Nyquist Criterion - sample at least twice as fast as the maximum freq (Sampling frequency (fs) should satisfy Nyquist Criterion fs > 2 fmax (fmax max. frequency of interest)This can be something like x5 the maximum - if we want to do alpha etc.
Why should we avoid aliasing?
Ro get a faithful representation of our sample
What should the sampling frequency satisfy?
Sampling frequency (fs) should satisfy Nyquist Criterion fs > 2 fmax (fmax max. frequency of interest)
For an EEG signal with a maximum frequency of 70 Hz, aliasing occurs when. A fs 256Hz B. fs 1024 Hz C. fs 512Hz D. fs 128 Hz
What are EEG artifacts?
Problems in the EEG signal that need reducing/eliminating.
What are the 5 main artifacts?
1) Saccades 2) EMG (mastoid/jaw muscle/face muscles)3) EKG (pulsation of the heart)4) Skin potentials (leading to blocking)5) Alpha waves (mind wandering etc)
What is the brute force approach to rejection?
Brute force approach: Reject if over threshold (75-100 Î¼V) as the brain doesn't create these frequency artifacts usually have much larger amplitude
Other factors in artefact rejection?
Blink (Check vEOG, Topography, Polarity) -measure the diffâ€¢ Eye movement (Check hEOG, Step-like wave) - measure the diffâ€¢ Electrode shift (Shifting of potentials)â€¢ Muscles (High frequency) beta - gamma Heart (Mostly in mastoid electrodes, Low frequency)
Three issues with artifact rejection?
Loss of a significant portion of data. Some participants are very prone to certain artifacts â€¢ Some tasks essentially call for artefacts. We lose TOO many trials
What is the alternative to artefact rejection?
What are the simple methods for artifact correction?
Subtraction method (variance-based) Filtering
What are the advanced methods for artifact correction?
Mathematical approaches:1) Dipole/Source modeling procedures2) Independent Component Analysis (ICA)
A brief description of Independent Component Analysis (ICA)?
a computational method to separate the sources of artifacts - identifying the troublesome parts by certain characteristics and individual weights - then reverse the weights (reducing artifacts)
how to practically minimize Artifacts?
Electrical screening of the testing space (Faraday cage). Careful instruction of participants to minimize movement; blink pauses. Ensuring the participants in a relaxed condition (to reduce muscle activity). Careful electrode application to minimize impedance. Maintaining the cool temperature and low humidity level inside the lab (to reduce slow drift). Filtering (e.g., high-pass filter to remove slow-shifts [i.e.,low-frequency fluctuations in the EEG], and low- pass filter to avoid aliasing band-pass filter)
What are the 5 standard frequency bands?
Delta: < 4 Hz Theta:4-7Hz Alpha: 8-14 Hz Beta:15-30Hzâ€¢ Gamma > 30 Hz5 frequency bands (FRE BAND in THE GAY BED)
What is the Fourier Analysis?
Transformation of the EEG into sine (sinusoidal) functions of various frequencies like a freq histogram (strength of particular freq)
What does Fourier Analysis lead to?
Leads to a power spectrum: power as a function of frequency
What are the applications of spontaneous EEG
Cognitive Research. Experiments with long-duration stimuli (i.e. task requiring sustained attention, ecologically appropriate stimuli)> Perhaps Mind-wandering? Monitoring sleep stages. Clinical Research. Epilepsy. Detection of seizures. Localization of focus/foci. Prediction of seizure onset. Monitoring the level of anesthesia. Detection of brain death. Measurement of drug effects. Detection of cerebral pathology, e.g., through blood supply problems. Sleep disorders. Almost all neurological disorders have EEG correlates.
What is an event-related potential / evoked-potential?
The general class of potentials displaying a stable time relationship to a definable reference event.
What is an ERP reference event?
Reference event Onset/offset of a stimulus Motor response Decision moment.
Who uses the term EP and who ERP Terminology?
EP: Perception and clinical research. ERP: Experimental cognitive research.
What characterizes an ERP?
ERPs are waveform characterized by a series of positive (P) or negative (N) deflections at different latencies ïƒ ERP Components Exogenous Components: Modulated by external characteristics of stimuli Endogenous Components: Modulated by internal characteristics
What is the ERP hypothesis?
ERP Hypothesis: ERP is a signal (s) that appears superimposed and without interaction on the background or ongoing EEG, which is considered random noise (n).
Assumptions of ERP?
ERP is uncorrelated with background EEG. Background EEG is random. ERP is invariant across trials (same ERP is repeated over trials - take the average as invariant) â€¢ Background EEG varies (randomly) from trial to trial.
So how do we get an ERP?
How does signal averaging work then?
After averaging across trials, the noise will cancel out and only the event-related EEG response will remain. Background signal cancels out and leaves with the ERPs, which are invariant.
What are the advantages of ERP?
ERPs are simple, fast to computed ERPs require very few analyses or parameters. ERP has high temporal precision and accuracy. ERP literature is quite mature. ERP provides an excellent quality check.
What is an ERP component?
We can simply define an ERP component as one of the component waves of the more complex ERP waveform. So one part could be the One and another the Pe. An ERP component is a part of a waveform with a circumscribed scalp distribution (physiological substrate) and a circumscribed relationship to experimental variables (functional substrate).
What is an example of an ERP component?
Examples: MMN (mismatched negativity, 160-220 milliseconds at central sites) N170 (face-related potential at occipital sites)
Why do we study ERP components?
Common language linking diverse experiments, paradigms, etc 2. The base for integrating ERP with other measures of brain activity 3. Structure-function information
What is the baseline period?
In averaging, all trials are set (arithmetically)to have the same zero voltage at stimulus onset, so that only deviations from the baseline voltage are seen in the ERP, after stimulus presentation. if Baseline subtraction (mean of the baseline period is subtracted)
How many trials for electroencephalography?
As many as possible. The number of trials depends on signal-to-noise characteristics; the effect size and the type of analysis to be performed SNR (signal-to-noise-ratio) increases as a function of the square root of the number of trials. Practical suggestions. 50 trials / condition / participants. Similar number of trials for all conditions. Phase/power produce positive bias with fewer trials). If not possible, match trial count. Select the first N trials from each condition (N-the number of trials in the smallest condition). Select N trials at random. Select N trials based on some relevant behavioural or experiment variable (i.e. reaction time)
What is a VEP?
visual evoked potential
What is an AEP
Auditory evoked potential
What is an SEP
Somatosensory Evoked Potentials (SEP)
What is Contingent-Negative Variation (CNV)
Indicator of learning paired stimuli (Get Set â€“ Go)â€¢ Reflection of attention, concentration & readiness to S2 â€¢ Index of neuronal excitability
What ERP accompanies semantic violations ?
N400 in Semantic Violations
What accompanies violations in music
What are the two major limitations of ERP?
The first concerns interpretational issues, particularly regarding interpreting null results - the absence of proof is not the proof of absence. An ERP reveals little EEG information (single-trial)â€“ ERP does not capture non-phase-locked responses The ERPs provide limited opportunities for linking results to actual neurophysiological dynamics. ERPs are less understood compared to the neurophysiological mechanisms that produce neuronal oscillations and synchrony.
If ERP is evoked activity, what other types of activity are there?
Dynamic Brain Oscillations
And what two types of Dynamic Brain Oscillations are there?
Evoked oscillations have a strict phase relationship regarding the stimulus (every time brain respond same)Induced oscillations do not have a strict phase relationship (not always the same time-varying latency â€“ e.g. (cognitive control / top-down / attention)
So what are the limitations of ERP regarding oscillations?
ERP takes the average (keep the same latency) but induced the response gets lost. The disadvantage as ERP only captures stimulus time-locked relationships.
Dynamic Brain Oscillations advantages
Logical interpretations. Neurophysiological mechanisms. Ubiquitous oscillations. Neuronal oscillations are the most promising bridge linking findings from multiple disciplines. Covers a more comprehensive multi-dimensional space.
Methods for dynamic brain oscillation analysis?
short term Fourier transform of time-frequency time series or wavelet needs freq + time!!!
Oscillations in complex cognition
then give them a hint ....brain oscillation structure - over occipital-parietal region - when higher (hint couldn't help) but if gamma is lower... then the hint is successfully utilised. Only worked in specific brain states (receptive) characterized by the oscillatory state if alpha was high in temporal - then also was more likely to solve the problem (when we focus on something, gamma increases, when diffuse attention, alpha is high. And for these types of problems, being too focused rarely works. Need to be open (alpha) not fixed (gamma)so posterior gamma focused attention (fixation)posterior alpha diffuse (open to new solution)
Object Perception and feature binding
Gamma Band Synchrony
Visual binding in adults
in gamma band comparing kaniza triangle bind diff features - new perception represented by 40hz - and is phase-locked
Attention to music in musicians
Posterior Beta and anterior Gamma
Posterior Gamma for sudden solutions
Which ERP for Semantic Violations?
Early Evoked potentials: AEP â€“SEP â€“ N10CEP â€“Chemosensory has no early ERP
later Attention P1 / n1 p2
Early Evoked potentials: SEP
Early Evoked potentials: CEP
Chemosensory has no early ERP