Event Abstract

Setting the pace of perception: auditory detection can be modulated by the phase of evoked brain oscillations

  • 1 Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany

The question of whether ongoing oscillations shape our perception still remains under debate. Although recent publications (Busch, 2009; Mathewson, 2009) indicated that visual detection thresholds fluctuate over time, these results can only account for a correlation of perception with the phase of ongoing EEG oscillations. However, it would be desirable to demonstrate a causal relation between phase and perception. Therefore, we conducted an auditory detection experiment and simultaneously applied transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). Participants had to detect 500 Hz sine tones of 10 ms duration. The sine tones were presented at seven different signal-to-noise ratios and during six different phases of the 10 Hz oscillation that was elicited by tACS. A condition in which no tACS was applied served as reference condition. By fitting psychometric functions to the behavioral data we were able to compare thresholds for the different phases. This approach revealed that detection thresholds were dependent on the phase of the oscillation that was elicited by tACS. Stimuli presented in the phase with the lowest threshold lead to significantly better detection performance compared to the reference performance. Detection thresholds systematically increased with distance to the best phase. Maximal distance leads to a detection performance below the reference performance. These results extend the existence of a relationship between ongoing alpha oscillations and detection performance to the auditory domain. By showing a causal relation our results go beyond the previous findings which showed only a correlation. We found that our manipulation of the phase resulted in different detection rates. Funding: The research is part of the SFB/TR 31-TPA9: the active auditory system, and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Keywords: EEG, Perception

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Poster Sessions: Neurophysiology of Sensation and Perception

Citation: Neuling T, Rach S and Herrmann CS (2011). Setting the pace of perception: auditory detection can be modulated by the phase of evoked brain oscillations. Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00336

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Received: 23 Nov 2011; Published Online: 28 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Toralf Neuling, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany, toralf.neuling@sbg.ac.at