Targeted rhythmic visual stimulation at individual participants’ intrinsic alpha frequency causes selective increase of occipitoparietal BOLD-fMRI and EEG functional connectivity

Cilia Jaeger, Rachel Nuttall, Juliana Zimmermann, James Dowsett, Christine Preibisch, Christian Sorg, Afra Wohlschlaeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neural oscillations in distinct frequency bands are ubiquitous in the brain and play a role in many cognitive processes. The “communication by coherence” hypothesis, poses that the synchronization through phase coupling of frequency-specific neural oscillations regulate information flow across distribute brain regions. Specifically, the posterior alpha frequency band (7–12 Hz) is thought to gate bottom-up visual information flow by inhibition during visual processing. Evidence shows that increased alpha phase coherency positively correlates with functional connectivity in resting state connectivity networks, supporting alpha mediates neural communication through coherency. However, these findings have mainly been derived from spontaneous changes in the ongoing alpha rhythm. In this study, we experimentally modulate the alpha rhythm by targeting individuals’ intrinsic alpha frequency with sustained rhythmic light to investigate alpha-mediated synchronous cortical activity in both EEG and fMRI. We hypothesize increased alpha coherency and fMRI connectivity should arise from modulation of the intrinsic alpha frequency (IAF) as opposed to control frequencies in the alpha range. Sustained rhythmic and arrhythmic stimulation at the IAF and at neighboring frequencies within the alpha band range (7–12 Hz) was implemented and assessed in a separate EEG and fMRI study. We observed increased cortical alpha phase coherency in the visual cortex during rhythmic stimulation at the IAF as in comparison to rhythmic stimulation of control frequencies. In the fMRI, we found increased functional connectivity for stimulation at the IAF in visual and parietal areas as compared to other rhythmic control frequencies by correlating time courses from a set of regions of interest for the different stimulation conditions and applying network-based statistics. This suggests that rhythmic stimulation at the IAF frequency induces a higher degree of synchronicity of neural activity across the occipital and parietal cortex, which supports the role of the alpha oscillation in gating information flow during visual processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119981
JournalNeuroImage
Volume270
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alpha oscillation
  • EEG-fMRI
  • Entrainment
  • Imaginary coherency
  • Individual alpha frequency
  • Visual flicker
  • fMRI connectivity
  • occipitoparietal cortex

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