Parietal tACS at beta frequency improves vision in a crowding regime.
Visual crowding is the inability to discriminate objects when presented with nearby flankers and sets a fundamental limit for conscious perception. Beta oscillations in the parietal cortex were found to be associated to crowding, with higher beta amplitude related to better crowding resilience. An open question is whether beta activity directly and selectively modulates crowding. We employed Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) in the beta band (18-Hz), in the alpha band (10-Hz) or in a sham regime, asking whether 18-Hz tACS would selectively improve the perception of crowded stimuli by increasing parietal beta activity. Resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) was measured before and after stimulation to test the influence of tACS on endogenous oscillations. Consistently with our predictions, we found that 18-Hz tACS, as compared to 10-Hz tACS and sham stimulation, reduced crowding. This improvement was found specifically in the contralateral visual hemifield and was accompanied by an increased amplitude of EEG beta oscillations, confirming an effect on endogenous brain rhythms. These results support a causal relationship between parietal beta oscillations and visual crowding and provide new insights into the precise oscillatory mechanisms involved in human vision.
PMID: 31821867 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Neuroimage. 2020 03;208:116451
Authors: Battaglini L, Ghiani A, Casco C, Ronconi L