Decoding human spontaneous spiking activity in medial temporal lobe from scalp EEG

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Linking scalp electroencephalography (EEG) signals and spontaneous firing activity from deep nuclei in humans is not trivial. To examine this, we analyzed simultaneous recordings of scalp EEG and unit activity in deeply located sites recorded overnight from patients undergoing pre-surgical invasive monitoring. We focused on modeling the within-subject average unit activity of two medial temporal lobe areas: amygdala and hippocampus. Linear regression model correlates the units’ average firing activity to spectral features extracted from the EEG during wakefulness or non-REM sleep. We show that changes in mean firing activity in both areas and states can be estimated from EEG (Pearson r > 0.2, p≪0.001). Region specificity was shown with respect to other areas. Both short- and long-term fluctuations in firing rates contributed to the model accuracy. This demonstrates that scalp EEG frequency modulations can predict changes in neuronal firing rates, opening a new horizon for non-invasive neurological and psychiatric interventions.