Dissociation of frontal-midline delta-theta and posterior alpha oscillations: A mobile EEG study

Mingli Liang, Michael J. Starrett, Arne D. Ekstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Numerous reports have demonstrated low-frequency oscillations during navigation using invasive recordings in the hippocampus of both rats and human patients. Given evidence, in some cases, of low-frequency synchronization between midline cortex and hippocampus, it is also possible that low-frequency movement-related oscillations manifest in healthy human neocortex. However, this possibility remains largely unexplored, in part due to the difficulties of coupling free ambulation and effective scalp EEG recordings. In the current study, participants freely ambulated on an omnidirectional treadmill and explored an immersive virtual reality city rendered on a head-mounted display while undergoing simultaneous wireless scalp EEG recordings. We found that frontal-midline (FM) delta-theta (2–7.21 Hz) oscillations increased during movement compared to standing still periods, consistent with a role in navigation. In contrast, posterior alpha (8.32–12.76 Hz) oscillations were suppressed in the presence of visual input, independent of movement. Our findings suggest that FM delta-theta and posterior alpha oscillations arise at independent frequencies, under complementary behavioral conditions, and, at least for FM delta-theta oscillations, at independent recordings sites. Together, our findings support a double dissociation between movement-related FM delta-theta and resting-related posterior alpha oscillations. Our study thus provides novel evidence that FM delta-theta oscillations arise, in part, from real-world ambulation, and are functionally independent from posterior alpha oscillations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13090
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • BOSC
  • EEG
  • spatial navigation
  • theta
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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