An Analysis of the External Validity of EEG Spectral Power in an Uncontrolled Outdoor Environment during Default and Complex Neurocognitive States




Edwards, Dalton J.
Trujillo, Logan

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


Traditionally, quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG) studies collect data within controlled laboratory environments that limit the external validity of scientific conclusions. To probe these validity limits, we used a mobile EEG system to record electrophysiological signals from human participants while they were located within a controlled laboratory environment and an uncontrolled outdoor environment exhibiting several moderate background influences. Participants performed two tasks during these recordings, one engaging brain activity related to several complex cognitive functions (number sense, attention, memory, executive function) and the other engaging two default brain states. We computed EEG spectral power over three frequency bands (theta: 4–7 Hz, alpha: 8–13 Hz, low beta: 14–20 Hz) where EEG oscillatory activity is known to correlate with the neurocognitive states engaged by these tasks. Null hypothesis significance testing yielded significant EEG power effects typical of the neurocognitive states engaged by each task, but only a beta-band power difference between the two background recording environments during the default brain state. Bayesian analysis showed that the remaining environment null effects were unlikely to reflect measurement insensitivities. This overall pattern of results supports the external validity of laboratory EEG power findings for complex and default neurocognitive states engaged within moderately uncontrolled environments.



QEEG, mobile EEG, PASAT, resting state, external validity, Psychology


Edwards, D. J., & Trujillo, L. T. (2021). An analysis of the external validity of EEG spectral power in an uncontrolled outdoor environment during default and complex neurocognitive states. Brain Sciences, 11(3), 330.


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