Cognitive effort decreases beta, alpha, and theta coherence and ends afterdischarges in human brain

Ronald P. Lesser, W. R.S. Webber, Diana L. Miglioretti, Jay J. Pillai, Shruti Agarwal, Susumu Mori, Peter F. Morrison, Stefano Castagnola, Adeshola Lawal, Helen J. Lesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Mental activation has been reported to modify the occurrence of epileptiform activity. We studied its effect on afterdischarges. Method: In 15 patients with implanted electrodes we presented cognitive tasks when afterdischarges occurred. We developed a wavelet cross-coherence function to analyze the electrocorticography before and after the tasks and compared findings when cognitive tasks did or did not result in afterdischarge termination. Six patients returned for functional MRI (fMRI) testing, using similar tasks. Results: Cognitive tasks often could terminate afterdischarges when direct abortive stimulation could not. Wavelet cross-coherence analysis showed that, when afterdischarges stopped, there was decreased coherence throughout the brain in the 7.13–22.53 Hz frequency ranges (p values 0.008–0.034). This occurred a) regardless of whether an area activated on fMRI and b) regardless of whether there were afterdischarges in the area. Conclusions: It is known that cognitive tasks can alter localized or network synchronization. Our results show that they can change activity throughout the brain. These changes in turn can terminate localized epileptiform activity. Significance: Cognitive tasks result in diffuse brain changes that can modify focal brain activity. Combined with a seizure detection device, cognitive activation might provide a non-invasive method of terminating or modifying seizures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2169-2181
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Afterdischarges
  • Attention
  • Cognition
  • Coherence
  • Effort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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