Alpha waves—posterior dominant rhythms at 8–12 Hz reactive to eye opening and closure—are among the most fundamental EEG findings in clinical practice and research since Hans Berger first documented them in the early 20th century. Yet, the exact network dynamics of alpha waves in regard to eye movements remains unknown. High-gamma activity at 70–110 Hz is also reactive to eye movements and a summary measure of local cortical activation supporting sensorimotor or cognitive function. We aimed to build the first-ever brain atlases directly visualizing the network dynamics of eye movement-related alpha and high-gamma modulations, at cortical and white matter levels. We studied 28 patients (age: 5–20 years) who underwent intracranial EEG and electro-oculography recordings. We measured alpha and high-gamma modulations at 2167 electrode sites outside the seizure onset zone, interictal spike-generating areas and MRI-visible structural lesions. Dynamic tractography animated white matter streamlines modulated significantly and simultaneously beyond chance, on a millisecond scale. Before eye-closure onset, significant alpha augmentation occurred at the occipital and frontal cortices. After eye-closure onset, alpha-based functional connectivity was strengthened, while high gamma-based connectivity was weakened extensively in both intra-hemispheric and inter-hemispheric pathways involving the central visual areas. The inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus supported the strengthened alpha co-augmentation-based functional connectivity between occipital and frontal lobe regions, whereas the posterior corpus callosum supported the inter-hemispheric functional connectivity between the occipital lobes. After eye-opening offset, significant high-gamma augmentation and alpha attenuation occurred at occipital, fusiform and inferior parietal cortices. High gamma co-augmentation-based functional connectivity was strengthened, whereas alpha-based connectivity was weakened in the posterior inter-hemispheric and intra-hemispheric white matter pathways involving central and peripheral visual areas. Our results do not support the notion that eye closure-related alpha augmentation uniformly reflects feedforward or feedback rhythms propagating from lower to higher order visual cortex, or vice versa. Rather, proactive and reactive alpha waves involve extensive, distinct white matter networks that include the frontal lobe cortices, along with low- and high-order visual areas. High-gamma co-attenuation coupled to alpha co-augmentation in shared brain circuitry after eye closure supports the notion of an idling role for alpha waves during eye closure. These normative dynamic tractography atlases may improve understanding of the significance of EEG alpha waves in assessing the functional integrity of brain networks in clinical practice; they also may help elucidate the effects of eye movements on task-related brain network measures observed in cognitive neuroscience research.
- diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI)-based dynamic tractography
- four-dimensional brain mapping
- paediatric epilepsy surgery
- physiological high-frequency oscillations
- posterior dominant rhythm (PDR)