Alpha/beta power decreases track the fidelity of stimulus-specific information

Benjamin Griffiths, Stephen D Mayhew, Karen J Mullinger, João Jorge, Ian Charest, Maria Wimber, Simon Hanslmayr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)


Massed synchronised neuronal firing is detrimental to information processing. When networks of task-irrelevant neurons fire in unison, they mask the signal generated by task-critical neurons. On a macroscopic level, such synchronisation can contribute to alpha/beta (8-30Hz) oscillations. Reducing the amplitude of these oscillations, therefore, may enhance information processing. Here, we test this hypothesis. Twenty-one participants completed an associative memory task while undergoing simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings. Using representational similarity analysis, we quantified the amount of stimulus-specific information represented within the BOLD signal on every trial. When correlating this metric with concurrently-recorded alpha/beta power, we found a significant negative correlation which indicated that as post-stimulus alpha/beta power decreased, stimulus-specific information increased. Critically, we found this effect in three unique tasks: visual perception, auditory perception, and visual memory retrieval, indicating that this phenomenon transcends both stimulus modality and cognitive task. These results indicate that alpha/beta power decreases parametrically track the fidelity of both externally-presented and internally-generated stimulus-specific information represented within the cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere49562
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2019


  • EEG
  • episodic memory
  • fMRI
  • human
  • neural oscillations
  • neuroscience
  • perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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