New vistas for Alpha-frequency band oscillations

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
Trends in Neurosciences (Impact Factor: 13.56). 05/2007; 30(4):150-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2007.02.001
Source: PubMed


The amplitude of alpha-frequency band (8-14 Hz) activity in the human electroencephalogram is suppressed by eye opening, visual stimuli and visual scanning, whereas it is enhanced during internal tasks, such as mental calculation and working memory. alpha-Frequency band oscillations have hence been thought to reflect idling or inhibition of task-irrelevant cortical areas. However, recent data on alpha-amplitude and, in particular, alpha-phase dynamics posit a direct and active role for alpha-frequency band rhythmicity in the mechanisms of attention and consciousness. We propose that simultaneous alpha-, beta- (14-30 Hz) and gamma- (30-70 Hz) frequency band oscillations are required for unified cognitive operations, and hypothesize that cross-frequency phase synchrony between alpha, beta and gamma oscillations coordinates the selection and maintenance of neuronal object representations during working memory, perception and consciousness.

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