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Spontaneous fluctuations in posterior α-band EEG activity reflect variability in excitability of human visual areas

Romei, V and Brodbeck, V and Michel, C and Amedi, A and Pascual-Leone, A and Thut, G (2008) 'Spontaneous fluctuations in posterior α-band EEG activity reflect variability in excitability of human visual areas.' Cerebral Cortex, 18 (9). 2010 - 2018. ISSN 1047-3211

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Abstract

Neural activity fluctuates dynamically with time, and these changes have been reported to be of behavioral significance, despite occurring spontaneously. Through electroencephalography (EEG), fluctuations in α-band (8-14 Hz) activity have been identified over posterior sites that covary on a trial-by-trial basis with whether an upcoming visual stimulus will be detected or not. These fluctuations are thought to index the momentary state of visual cortex excitability. Here, we tested this hypothesis by directly exciting human visual cortex via transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to induce illusory visual percepts (phosphenes) in blindfolded participants, while simultaneously recording EEG. We found that identical TMS-stimuli evoked a percept (P-yes) or not (P-no) depending on prestimulus α-activity. Low prestimulus α-band power resulted in TMS reliably inducing phosphenes (P-yes trials), whereas high prestimulus α-values led the same TMS-stimuli failing to evoke a visual percept (P-no trials). Additional analyses indicated that the perceptually relevant fluctuations in α-activity/visual cortex excitability were spatially specific and occurred on a subsecond time scale in a recurrent pattern. Our data directly link momentary levels of posterior α-band activity to distinct states of visual cortex excitability, and suggest that their spontaneous fluctuation constitutes a visual operation mode that is activated automatically even without retinal input. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2013 15:18
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 16:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/5717

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