Gamma activity coupled to alpha phase as a mechanism for top-down controlled gating

Mathilde Bonnefond, Ole Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


Coupling between neural oscillations in different frequency bands has been proposed to coordinate neural processing. In particular, gamma power coupled to alpha phase is proposed to reflect gating of information in the visual system but the existence of such a mechanism remains untested. Here, we recorded ongoing brain activity using magnetoencephalography in subjects who performed a modified Sternberg working memory task in which distractors were presented in the retention interval. During the anticipatory pre-distractor period, we show that the phase of alpha oscillations was coupled with the power of high (80-120Hz) gamma band activity, i.e. gamma power consistently was lower at the trough than at the peak of the alpha cycle (9-12Hz). We further show that high alpha power was associated with weaker gamma power at the trough of the alpha cycle. This result is in line with alpha activity in sensory region implementing a mechanism of pulsed inhibition silencing neuronal firing every ~100 ms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0128667
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2015


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