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Electroencephalographic oscillations at 10 Hz (alpha and mu rhythms) are the most prominent rhythms observed in awake, relaxed (eye-closed) subjects. These oscillations may be considered as a marker of cortical inactivity or an index of the active inhibition of the sensory information. Different cortical sources may participate in the 10-Hz oscillation and appear to be modulated by the sensory context and functional demands. In microgravity, the marked reduction in multimodal graviceptive inputs to cortical networks participating in the representation of space could be expected to affect the 10-Hz activity. The effect of microgravity on this basic oscillation has heretofore not been studied quantitatively. Because the alpha rhythm has a functional role in the regulation of network properties of the visual areas, we hypothesised that the absence of gravity would affect its strength. Here, we report the results of an experiment conducted over the course of 3 space flights, in which we quantified the power of the 10-Hz activity in relation to the arrest reaction (i.e., in 2 distinct physiological states: eyes open and eyes closed). We observed that the power of the spontaneous 10-Hz oscillation recorded in the eyes-closed state in the parieto-occipital (alpha rhythm) and sensorimotor areas (mu rhythm) increased in the absence of gravity. The suppression coefficient during the arrest reaction and the related spectral perturbations produced by eye-opening/closure state transition also increased in on orbit. These results are discussed in terms of current theories on the source and the importance of the alpha rhythm for cognitive function. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Research

Publication Date





104 - 116