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Presleep relaxed 7–8 Hz EEG from left frontal region: marker of localised neuropsychological performance?

Physiology & Behavior
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.03.006
  • Waking 7–8 Hz Eeg
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Thinking
  • Nonverbal Planning
  • Verbal Fluency
  • Psychology


Abstract Others have shown that frontally dominant EEG activity of around 7–8 Hz is linked to ongoing cognitive performance. Interestingly, we have found that this EEG activity is particularly evident during the relatively artefact-free period following “lights out” at bedtime when people report “thinking” when lying relaxed in their own beds prior to the appearance of EEG-determined sleepiness. Here, we explore the extent to which this localised activity is indicative of ‘trait’ performance on left frontal neuropsychological tasks, as well as with less localised, more general tasks. Twelve right-handed young adults (mean age: 21.3 years) and 12 right-handed older adults (mean age: 67.2 years) underwent (i) morning, laboratory-based, waking EEGs comprising (eyes closed) contrived thinking tasks, and (ii) a home-based wake EEG at bedtime. EEGs divided the cortex into the four comparable quadrants: Fp 1–F 3; Fp 2–F 4; O 1–P 3; and O 2–P 4. From a wide frequency band of 3–10 Hz analysed in 1-Hz bins, only 7–8 Hz was associated with the neuropsychological performance (nonverbal planning, verbal fluency) for both younger and older participants. This was most evident during relaxed waking after ‘lights out,’ and from the left frontal EEG. Such associations were not apparent for the other EEG channels or for the nonspecific tasks. Laboratory-based daytime, frontal EEG recordings are problematic because of eye movement artefact and when participants are not fully relaxed. In contrast, the nighttime data are almost artefact-free and from fully relaxed participants. This particular EEG is useful for assessing cortically localised behaviour and indicates that a more traditional approach of using large bandwidths (e.g., the whole of “alpha” or “theta” ranges) may mask subfrequencies of functional importance.

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