Effect of luminance level on electro-encephalogram alpha-wave synchronisation

A. M. Maher*, L. Kirkup, P. Swift, D. Martin, A. Searle, Y. Tran, A. Craig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A control system for the remote activation of electronic devices, based on alpha-wave synchronisation, must be robust over a wide range of lighting conditions. This study investigates the effect that low light levels have on the increase in amplitude of the occipital alpha-wave component of the human electro-encephalogram spectrum in response to eye closure. Measurements of the time required for the amplitude of the occipital alpha wave to increase above a predetermined threshold, upon eye closure, were taken from 21 subjects and at four illuminances, ranging from 2 × 10-1 lx to 2 × 10-5 lx. The light source used to provide these illuminances was a featureless, uniformly illuminated white paper that subtended 30° of the visual field. Statistical analysis showed that the time to exceed threshold (TTET) upon eye closure was not independent (p<0.001) of illuminance, and that the main source of this lack of independence occurred at the lowest illuminance, 2 × 10-5 lx. At this luminance, the median TTET value was 15.0s. However, at 2 × 10-4 lx, the median value of the TTET was 4.2 s. This is a sufficiently short time for device activation, and therefore a control system based on alpha-wave synchronisation is functional at very low light levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-677
Number of pages6
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha
  • Electro-encephalogram
  • Environmental control
  • Illuminance
  • Synchronisation


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