Sounds reset rhythms of visual cortex and corresponding human visual perception

Romei, V., Gross, J. and Thut, G. (2012) Sounds reset rhythms of visual cortex and corresponding human visual perception. Current Biology, 22(9), pp. 807-813. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.025) (PMID:22503499) (PMCID:PMC3368263)

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An event in one sensory modality can phase reset brain oscillations concerning another modality [1-5]. In principle, this may result in stimulus-locked periodicity in behavioral performance [6]. Here we considered this possible cross-modal impact of a sound for one of the best-characterized rhythms arising from the visual system, namely occipital alpha-oscillations (8-14 Hz) [7-9]. We presented brief sounds and concurrently recorded electroencephalography (EEG) and/or probed visual cortex excitability (phosphene perception) through occipital transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). In a first, TMS-only experiment, phosphene perception rate against time postsound showed a periodic pattern cycling at ∼10 Hz phase-aligned to the sound. In a second, combined TMS-EEG experiment, TMS-trials reproduced the cyclical phosphene pattern and revealed a ∼10 Hz pattern also for EEG-derived measures of occipital cortex reactivity to the TMS pulses. Crucially, EEG-data from intermingled trials without TMS established cross-modal phase-locking of occipitoparietal alpha oscillations. These independently recorded variables, i.e., occipital cortex excitability and reactivity and EEG phase dynamics, were significantly correlated. This shows that cross-modal phase locking of oscillatory visual cortex activity can arise in the human brain to affect perceptual and EEG measures of visual processing in a cyclical manner, consistent with occipital alpha oscillations underlying a rapid cycling of neural excitability in visual areas.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Romei, Dr Vincenzo and Thut, Professor Gregor and Gross, Professor Joachim
Authors: Romei, V., Gross, J., and Thut, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Current Biology
Publisher:Elsevier (Cell Press)
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Published Online:12 April 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Current Biology 22(9): 807-813
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
547681Modifying Brain Oscillations to Drive PerceptionGregor ThutBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/I006494/1Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies
468371Investigating neural communication with multivariate autoregressive modelsJoachim GrossWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)084067/Z/07/ZCognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies
536511Neural mechanisms of sensory awarenessJoachim GrossWellcome Trust (WELLCOME)091928/Z/10/ZInstitute of Neuroscience and Psychology