Brain areas activated in fMRI during self-regulation of slow cortical potentials (SCPs)

Thilo Hinterberger, Ralf Veit, Ute Strehl, Tracy Trevorrow, Michael Erb, Boris Kotchoubey, Herta Flor, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In humans, surface-negative slow cortical potentials (SCPs) originating in the apical dendritic layers of the neocortex reflect synchronized depolarization of large groups of neuronal assemblies. They are recorded during states of behavioural or cognitive preparation and during motivational states of apprehension and fear. Surface positive SCPs are thought to indicate reduction of cortical excitation of the underlying neural networks and appear during behavioural inhibition and motivational inertia (e.g. satiety). SCPs at the cortical surface constitute summated population activity of local field potentials (LFPs). SCPs and LFPs may share identical neural substrates. In this study the relationship between negative and positive SCPs and changes in the BOLD signal of the fMRI were examined in ten subjects who were trained to successfully self-regulate their SCPs. FMRI revealed that the generation of negativity (increased cortical excitation) was accompanied by widespread activation in central, pre-frontal, and parietal brain regions as well as the basal ganglia. Positivity (decreased cortical excitation) was associated with widespread deactivations in several cortical sites as well as some activation, primarily in frontal and parietal structures as well as insula and putamen. Regression analyses revealed that cortical positivity was predicted with high accuracy by pallidum and putamen activation and supplementary motor area (SMA) and motor cortex deactivation, while differentiation between cortical negativity and positivity was revealed primarily in parahippocampal regions. These data suggest that negative and positive electrocortical potential shifts in the EEG are related to distinct differences in cerebral activation detected by fMRI and support animal studies showing parallel activations in fMRI and neuroelectric recordings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003


  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Physiological regulation
  • Slow cortical potentials (SCPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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