Desynchronizing to be faster? Perceptual- and attentional-modulation of brain rhythms at the sub-millisecond scale.


Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Humanities, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada, Kobe, 657-8501, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


Neural oscillatory signals has been associated with many high-level functions (e.g. attention and working memory), because they reflect correlated behaviors of neural population that would facilitate the information transfer in the brain. On the other hand, a decreased power of oscillation (event-related desynchronization, ERD) has been associated with an irregular state in which many neurons behave in an uncorrelated manner. In contrast to this view, here we show that the human ERD is linked to the increased regularity of oscillatory signals. Using magnetoencephalography, we found that presenting a visual stimulus not only induced a decrease in power of alpha (8-12 Hz) to beta (13-30 Hz) rhythms in the contralateral visual cortex but also reduced the mean and variance of their inter-peak intervals (IPIs). This indicates that the suppressed alpha/beta rhythms became faster (reduced mean) and more regular (reduced variance) during visual stimulation. The same changes in IPIs, especially those of beta rhythm, were observed when subjects allocated their attention to a contralateral visual field. Those results revealed a new role of the event-related decrease in alpha/beta power and further suggested that our brain regulates and accelerates a clock for neural computations by actively suppressing the oscillation amplitude in task-relevant regions.


Alpha blocking,Event-related desynchronization (ERD),Inhibitory control,Neural periodicity,Posner spatial cuing task,

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