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Theta Phase-dependent Modulation of Perception by Concurrent Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation and Periodic Visual Stimulation

Somer, Elif, Allen, John, Brooks, Joseph L, Buttrill, Vaughan, Javadi, Amir-Homayoun (2020) Theta Phase-dependent Modulation of Perception by Concurrent Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation and Periodic Visual Stimulation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32 (6). pp. 1142-1152. ISSN 0898-929X. E-ISSN 1530-8898. (doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01539) (KAR id:79538)

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Background: Sensory perception can be modulated by the phase of neural oscillations, especially in the theta and alpha ranges. Oscillatory activity in the visual cortex can be entrained by transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) as well as periodic visual stimulation (i.e., flicker). Combined tACS and visual flicker stimulation modulates blood- oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses and concurrent 4 Hz auditory click-trains and tACS modulates auditory perception in a phase-dependent way. Objective: In the present study, we investigated if phase synchrony between concurrent tACS and periodic visual stimulation (i.e., flicker) can modulate performance on a visual matching task. Methods: Participants completed a visual matching task on a flickering visual stimulus while receiving either in-phase (0°) or asynchronous (180°, 90°, or 270°) tACS at alpha or theta frequency. Stimulation was applied over either occipital cortex or dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Results: Visual performance was significantly better during theta frequency tACS over the visual cortex when it was in-phase (0°) with visual stimulus flicker, compared to anti-phase (180°). This effect did not appear with alpha frequency flicker or with DLPFC stimulation. Furthermore, a control sham group showed no effect. There were no significant performance differences amongst the asynchronous (180°, 90°, and 270°) phase conditions. Conclusion: Extending previous studies on visual and auditory perception, our results support a crucial role of oscillatory phase in sensory perception and demonstrate a behaviourally relevant combination of visual flicker and tACS. The spatial and frequency specificity of our results have implications for research on the functional organisation of perception.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1162/jocn_a_01539
Uncontrolled keywords: oscillation; visual perception; occipital cortex; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC); phase synchrony; transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Amir-Homayoun Javadi
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2020 12:09 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 02:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Brooks, Joseph L:
Javadi, Amir-Homayoun:
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