Dynamic relationships between spontaneous and evoked electrophysiological activity

Soren Wainio-Theberge, Annemarie Wolff, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Spontaneous neural activity fluctuations have been shown to influence trial-by-trial variation in perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes. However, the complex electrophysiological mechanisms by which these fluctuations shape stimulus-evoked neural activity remain largely to be explored. Employing a large-scale magnetoencephalographic dataset and an electroencephalographic replication dataset, we investigate the relationship between spontaneous and evoked neural activity across a range of electrophysiological variables. We observe that for high-frequency activity, high pre-stimulus amplitudes lead to greater evoked desynchronization, while for low frequencies, high pre-stimulus amplitudes induce larger degrees of event-related synchronization. We further decompose electrophysiological power into oscillatory and scale-free components, demonstrating different patterns of spontaneous-evoked correlation for each component. Finally, we find correlations between spontaneous and evoked time-domain electrophysiological signals. Overall, we demonstrate that the dynamics of multiple electrophysiological variables exhibit distinct relationships between their spontaneous and evoked activity, a result which carries implications for experimental design and analysis in non-invasive electrophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number741
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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