Dynamics of alpha control: Preparatory suppression of posterior alpha oscillations by frontal modulators revealed with combined EEG and event-related optical signal (EROS)

Kyle E. Mathewson, Diane M. Beck, Tony Ro, Edward L. Maclin, Kathy A. Low, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We investigated the dynamics of brain processes facilitating conscious experience of external stimuli. Previously we proposed that alpha (8-12 Hz) oscillations, which fluctuate with both sustained and directed attention, represent a pulsed inhibition of ongoing sensory brain activity. Here we tested the prediction that inhibitory alpha oscillations in visual cortex are modulated by top-down signals from frontoparietal attention networks. We measured modulations in phase-coherent alpha oscillations from superficial frontal, parietal, and occipital cortices using the event-related optical signal (EROS), a measure of neuronal activity affording high spatiotemporal resolution, along with concurrently-recorded electroencephalogram (EEG), while subjects performed a visual target-detection task. The pre-target alpha oscillations measured with EEG and EROS from posterior areas were larger for subsequently undetected targets, supporting alpha's inhibitory role. Using EROS, we localized brain correlates of these awareness-related alpha oscillations measured at the scalp to the cuneus and precuneus. Crucially, EROS alpha suppression correlated with posterior EEG alpha power across subjects. Sorting the EROS data based on EEG alpha power quartiles to investigate alpha modulators revealed that suppression of posterior alpha was preceded by increased activity in regions of the dorsal attention network, and decreased activity in regions of the cingulo-opercular network. Cross-correlations revealed the temporal dynamics of activity within these preparatory networks prior to posterior alpha modulation. The novel combination of EEG and EROS afforded localization of the sources and correlates of alpha oscillations and their temporal relationships, supporting our proposal that top-down control from attention networks modulates both posterior alpha and awareness of visual stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2400-2415
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
Volume26
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Keywords

  • Alpha oscillations
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Event-related optical signal (EROS)
  • Optical imaging
  • Visual masking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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