Spectral and Anatomical Patterns of Large-Scale Synchronization Predict Human Attentional Capacity

Santeri Rouhinen, Felix Siebenhühner, J. Matias Palva, Satu Palva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The capacity of visual attention determines how many visual objects may be perceived at any moment. This capacity can be investigated with multiple object tracking (MOT) tasks, which have shown that it varies greatly between individuals. The neuronal mechanisms underlying capacity limits have remained poorly understood. Phase synchronization of cortical oscillations coordinates neuronal communication within the fronto-parietal attention network and between the visual regions during endogenous visual attention. We tested a hypothesis that attentional capacity is predicted by the strength of pretarget synchronization within attention-related cortical regions. We recorded cortical activity with magneto- and electroencephalography (M/EEG) while measuring attentional capacity with MOT tasks and identified large-scale synchronized networks from source-reconstructed M/EEG data. Individual attentional capacity was correlated with load-dependent strengthening of theta (3-8 Hz), alpha (8-10 Hz), and gamma-band (30-120 Hz) synchronization that connected the visual cortex with posterior parietal and prefrontal cortices. Individual memory capacity was also preceded by crossfrequency phase-phase and phase-amplitude coupling of alpha oscillation phase with beta and gamma oscillations. Our results show that good attentional capacity is preceded by efficient dynamic functional coupling and decoupling within brain regions and across frequencies, which may enable efficient communication and routing of information between sensory and attentional systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5293-5308
Number of pages16
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Volume30
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • attention
  • capacity
  • EEG
  • MEG
  • oscillation
  • synchronization

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