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      The Phase of Ongoing EEG Oscillations Predicts Visual Perception

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          Abstract

          Oscillations are ubiquitous in electrical recordings of brain activity. While the amplitude of ongoing oscillatory activity is known to correlate with various aspects of perception, the influence of oscillatory phase on perception remains unknown. In particular, since phase varies on a much faster timescale than the more sluggish amplitude fluctuations, phase effects could reveal the fine-grained neural mechanisms underlying perception. We presented brief flashes of light at the individual luminance threshold while EEG was recorded. Although the stimulus on each trial was identical, subjects detected approximately half of the flashes (hits) and entirely missed the other half (misses). Phase distributions across trials were compared between hits and misses. We found that shortly before stimulus onset, each of the two distributions exhibited significant phase concentration, but at different phase angles. This effect was strongest in the theta and alpha frequency bands. In this time–frequency range, oscillatory phase accounted for at least 16% of variability in detection performance and allowed the prediction of performance on the single-trial level. This finding indicates that the visual detection threshold fluctuates over time along with the phase of ongoing EEG activity. The results support the notion that ongoing oscillations shape our perception, possibly by providing a temporal reference frame for neural codes that rely on precise spike timing.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J Neurosci
          J. Neurosci
          jneuro
          jneurosci
          J. Neurosci
          The Journal of Neuroscience
          Society for Neuroscience
          0270-6474
          1529-2401
          17 June 2009
          : 29
          : 24
          : 7869-7876
          Affiliations
          [1] 1Université de Toulouse, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier, France,
          [2] 2Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR5549, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, 31062 Toulouse, France, and
          [3] 3California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125
          Author notes
          Correspondence should be addressed to Niko A. Busch, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier, 31062 Toulouse Cédex 9, France. busch@ 123456cerco.ups-tlse.fr
          Article
          PMC6665641 PMC6665641 6665641 3498833
          10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0113-09.2009
          6665641
          19535598
          eebd970e-c952-4db2-843a-6b34718beb3d
          Copyright © 2009 Society for Neuroscience 0270-6474/09/297869-08$15.00/0
          Categories
          Articles
          Behavioral/Systems/Cognitive

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