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Genetic contributions to long-range temporal correlations in ongoing oscillations

Linkenkaer-Hansen, K., Smit, D. J. A., Barkil, A., Van Beijsterveldt, T. E. M., Brussaard, A. B., Boomsma, D. I., Van Ooyen, A., and De Geus, E. J. C. (2007). J. Neuroscience 27: 13882-13889. [Full text: PDF]


The amplitude fluctuations of ongoing oscillations in the electroencephalographic (EEG) signal of the human brain show auto-correlations that decay slowly and remain significant at time scales up to tens of seconds. We call these long-range temporal correlations (LRTC). Abnormal LRTC have been observed in several brain pathologies, but it remains unknown whether genetic factors influence the temporal correlation structure of ongoing oscillations.

We recorded the ongoing EEG during eyes-closed rest in 390 monozygotic and dizygotic twins and investigated the temporal structure of ongoing oscillations in the alpha- and beta-frequency bands using detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA). The strength of LRTC was more highly correlated in monozygotic than in dizygotic twins. Statistical analysis attributed up to ~60% of the variance in DFA to genetic factors, indicating a high heritability for the temporal structure of amplitude fluctuations in EEG oscillations. Importantly, the DFA and EEG power were uncorrelated. LRTC in ongoing oscillations are robust, heritable, and independent of power, suggesting that LRTC and oscillation power are governed by distinct biophysical mechanisms and serve different functions in the brain.

We propose that the DFA method is an important complement to classical spectral analysis in fundamental and clinical research on ongoing oscillations.

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