Frequency but not phase specific modulation of binocular rivalry with transcranial alternating current stimulation
Recent transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) literature suggests that tACS effects can in principle be both frequency and phase specific. In a series of three experiments using 69 participants used binocular rivalry percepts as a read-out for the effects of phase-synchronized tACS stimulation. To test for phase specificity, with frequency the same in each eye, we visually stimulated each eye with 3Hz, with stimuli in each eye presented in temporal in antiphase. The
... ic paradigm visually stimulated the right eye with 3Hz, and the left eye with 5Hz. Each experiment was accompanied by 3Hz tACS, whose phase with respect to the visual stimulus was varied by 0°, 90°, 180°, or 270° in relation to the right eye stimulus. A baseline no-tACS block preceded the stimulation blocks and two more followed, immediately and ten minutes after. Individual blocks lasted 4 minutes. Additionally, a no-tACS control experiment identical to the 3 Hz anti-phase visual stimuli setup was conducted, keeping all parameters the same but eliminating tACS. During stimulation, the 3 Hz anti-phase visual stimuli setup slowed the rate of rivalry in both eyes. Conversely, the 3Hz-right, 5Hz-left setup slowed the right (targeted) eye significantly while leaving the left (unstimulated) eye unchanged. In both experiments, durations returned to baseline after 10 minutes. Our results are consistent with the frequency-specific model of tACS, and with the Leveltian hypothesis that stimulation weakens the stimulated eye, as the right eye got weaker when it was directly targeted, and both eyes got weaker when targeted in antiphase. tACS does not appear to preferentially modulating percept durations in one phase more than in another.