Neural oscillationsinthe alphaband(8-12 Hz) are increasingly viewed as an active inhibitory mechanism that gatesand controls sensory information processing as a function of cognitive relevance. Extending this view, phase synchronization of alpha oscillations across distant cortical regions could regulate integration of information. Here, we investigated whether such long-range cross-region coupling in the alpha band is intrinsically and selectively linked to activity in a distinct functionally specialized brain network. If so, this would provide new insight into the functional roleof alpha band phase synchrony.We adapted the phase-locking valuetoassess fluctuations in synchrony that occur over time in ongoing activity. Concurrent EEG and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were recorded during resting wakefulness in 26 human subjects. Fluctuations in global synchrony in the upper alpha band correlated positively with activity in several prefrontal and parietal regions (as measured by fMRI). fMRI intrinsic connectivity analysis confirmed that these regions correspond to the well known fronto-parietal (FP) network. Spectral correlations with this network's activity confirmed that no other frequency band showed equivalent results. This selective association supports an intrinsic relation between large-scale alpha phase synchrony and cognitive functions associated with the FP network. This network has been suggested to implement phasic aspects of top-down modulation such as initiation and change in moment-to-moment control. Mechanistically, long-range upper alpha band synchrony is well suited to support these functions. Complementing our previous findings that related alpha oscillation power to neural structures serving tonic control, the current findings link alpha phase synchrony to neural structures underpinning phasic control of alertness and task requirements.
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