A long-range cortical network emerging with theta oscillation in a mental task

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Human scalp EEG has demonstrated that global coherence among distant areas increases during cognitive tasks, suggesting that oscillating neural activities work to generate global neuronal assemblies for cognitive functions. The theta oscillation in a frequency range of 4–8 Hz with large amplitudes which emerges during mental tasks around the frontal midline region is called fm theta. If theta oscillation concerns the global neuronal assemblies, fm theta should be associated with regional activities that depend on task conditions. In the present study, we examine the EEG-related brain activities by developing simultaneous EEG and fMRI during a mental calculation task. EEG-related negative BOLD was dominant over anterior medial regions, suggesting a major contribution of negative BOLD to fm theta. Negative and positive BOLD were found over distant regions. Functional connectivity analyses revealed that the connectivity varied remarkably according to mental conditions. In the rest condition, the connectivity was localized, whereas in the task condition, a long-range coherent network was formed by the anterior midline, posterior cingulate and right middle temporal cortices with linking between the right middle temporal and left lateral cortices during numerical processing. Further EEG analyses indicate that the long-range coherent network executing cognitive functions is coordinated in the time window of theta oscillations.

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