Spatio-temporal dynamics of alpha brain electric fields, and cognitive modes

Lehmann, Dietrich; König, Thomas (1997). Spatio-temporal dynamics of alpha brain electric fields, and cognitive modes. International journal of psychophysiology, 26(1-3), pp. 99-112. Elsevier 10.1016/S0167-8760(97)00758-7

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Brian electric activity is viewed as sequences of momentary maps of potential distribution. Frequency-domain source modeling, estimation of the complexity of the trajectory of the mapped brain field distributions in state space, and microstate parsing were used as analysis tools. Input-presentation as well as task-free (spontaneous thought) data collection paradigms were employed. We found: Alpha EEG field strength is more affected by visualizing mentation than by abstract mentation, both input-driven as well as self-generated. There are different neuronal populations and brain locations of the electric generators for different temporal frequencies of the brain field. Different alpha frequencies execute different brain functions as revealed by canonical correlations with mentation profiles. Different modes of mentation engage the same temporal frequencies at different brain locations. The basic structure of alpha electric fields implies inhomogeneity over time — alpha consists of concatenated global microstates in the sub-second range, characterized by quasi-stable field topographies, and rapid transitions between the microstates. In general, brain activity is strongly discontinuous, indicating that parsing into field landscape-defined microstates is appropriate. Different modes of spontaneous and induced mentation are associated with different brain electric microstates; these are proposed as candidates for psychophysiological ``atoms of thought''.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

König, Thomas


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Thomas König

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2014 17:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:27

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Brain electric fields, Functional microstates, Visual input, Imagery and abstract thought, Mentation classes, EEG source modelling, Alpha EEG




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