Testing tACS modulating alpha rhythm perception

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Testing the effect of tACS over parietal cortex in modulating endogenous alpha rhythm and temporal integration windows in visual perception.

Abstract
Neural oscillations in the alpha band (8-12 Hz) have been proposed as a key mechanism for the temporal resolution of visual perception. Higher alpha frequencies have been related to improved segregation of visual events over time, while lower alpha have been related to improved temporal integration. Similarly, also the phase of ongoing alpha has been shown to correlate with temporal integration/segregation. To test a causal relationship between alpha oscillations and perception, we here employed multi-channel transcranial alternating current stimulation (mc-tACS) over the right parietal cortex while participants performed a visual temporal integration/segregation task that used identical stimuli with different instructions. Before and after mc-tACS we recorded the resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG) to extract the individual alpha frequency (IAF) and delivered electrical stimulation at slightly slower and faster frequencies (IAF±2 Hz). We hypothesized that this would not only drive endogenous alpha rhythms, but also affect temporal integration and segregation in an opposite way. However, the mc-tACS protocol used here did not consistently increase or decrease the IAF after the stimulation and did not affect temporal integration/segregation accuracy as expected. Although we found some preliminary evidence for an influence of tACS phase on temporal integration accuracy, the ongoing phase of mc-tACS oscillations did not reliably modulate temporal integration/segregation accuracy in a sinusoidal way as would have been predicted by an effective entrainment of brain oscillations. These findings may guide future studies using different stimulation montages for investigating the role of cortical alpha oscillations for human vision.

PMID: 33098112 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Eur J Neurosci. 2020 Oct 23;:

Authors: Ronconi L, Melcher D, Junghöfer M, Wolters CH, Busch NA

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