Probing the causal role of prestimulus interregional synchrony for perceptual integration via tACS

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The phase of prestimulus oscillations at 7–10 Hz has been shown to modulate perception of briefly presented visual stimuli. Specifically, a recent combined EEG-fMRI study suggested that a prestimulus oscillation at around 7 Hz represents open and closed windows for perceptual integration by modulating connectivity between lower order occipital and higher order parietal brain regions. We here utilized brief event-related transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to specifically modulate this prestimulus 7 Hz oscillation, and the synchrony between parietal and occipital brain regions. To this end we tested for a causal role of this particular prestimulus oscillation for perceptual integration. The EEG was acquired at the same time allowing us to investigate frequency specific after effects phase-locked to stimulation offset. On a behavioural level our results suggest that the tACS did modulate perceptual integration, however, in an unexpected manner. On an electrophysiological level our results suggest that brief tACS does induce oscillatory entrainment, as visible in frequency specific activity phase-locked to stimulation offset. Together, our results do not strongly support a causal role of prestimulus 7 Hz oscillations for perceptual integration. However, our results suggest that brief tACS is capable of modulating oscillatory activity in a temporally sensitive manner.


Original languageEnglish
Article number32065
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2016


  • attention, perception