Individual Alpha Frequency Determines the Impact of Bottom-Up Drive on Visual Processing
Cerebral Cortex Communications
Endogenous alpha oscillations propagate from higher-order to early visual cortical regions, consistent with the observed modulation of these oscillations by top-down factors. However, bottom-up manipulations also influence alpha oscillations, and little is known about how these top-down and bottom-up processes interact to impact behavior. To address this, participants performed a detection task while viewing a stimulus flickering at multiple alpha band frequencies. Bottom-up drive at a
... drive at a participant's endogenous alpha frequency either impaired or enhanced perception, depending on the frequency, but not amplitude, of their endogenous alpha oscillation. Fast alpha drive impaired perceptual performance in participants with faster endogenous alpha oscillations, while participants with slower oscillations displayed enhanced performance. This interaction was reflected in slower endogenous oscillatory dynamics in participants with fast alpha oscillations and more rapid dynamics in participants with slow endogenous oscillations when receiving high-frequency bottom-up drive. This central tendency may suggest that driving visual circuits at alpha band frequencies that are away from the peak alpha frequency improves perception through dynamical interactions with the endogenous oscillation. As such, studies that causally manipulate neural oscillations via exogenous stimulation should carefully consider interacting effects of bottom-up drive and endogenous oscillations on behavior.