Cortical theta wanes for language

Dora Hermes, Kai J. Miller, Mariska J. Vansteensel, Erik Edwards, Cyrille H. Ferrier, Martin G. Bleichner, Peter C. van Rijen, Erik J. Aarnoutse, Nick F. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The role of low frequency oscillations in language areas is not yet understood. Using ECoG in six human subjects, we studied whether different language regions show prominent power changes in a specific rhythm, in similar manner as the alpha rhythm shows the most prominent power changes in visual areas. Broca's area and temporal language areas were localized in individual subjects using fMRI. In these areas, the theta rhythm showed the most pronounced power changes and theta power decreased significantly during verb generation. To better understand the role of this language-related theta decrease, we then studied the interaction between low frequencies and local neuronal activity reflected in high frequencies. Amplitude-amplitude correlations showed that theta power correlated negatively with high frequency activity, specifically across verb generation trials. Phase-amplitude coupling showed that during control trials, high frequency power was coupled to theta phase, but this coupling decreased significantly during verb generation trials. These results suggest a dynamic interaction between the neuronal mechanisms underlying the theta rhythm and local neuronal activity in language areas. As visual areas show a pronounced alpha rhythm that may reflect pulsed inhibition, language regions show a pronounced theta rhythm with highly similar features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-748
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jan 15 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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