Alpha oscillations are known to play a central role in the functional inhibition of visual cortices, but the mechanisms involved are poorly understood. One noninvasive method for modulating alpha activity experimentally is through the use of flickering visual stimuli that "entrain" visual cortices. Such alpha entrainment has been found to compromise visual perception and affect widespread cortical regions, but it remains unclear how the interference occurs and whether the widespread activity induced by alpha entrainment reflects a compensatory mechanism to mitigate the entrainment, or alternatively, a propagated interference signal that translates to impaired visual processing. Herein, we attempt to address these questions by integrating alpha entrainment into a modified Posner cueing paradigm, while measuring the underlying dynamics using magnetoencephalography. Our findings indicated that alpha entrainment is negatively related to task performance, such that as neural entrainment increases on the attended side (relative to the unattended side) accuracy decreases. Further, this attentional biasing is found to covary robustly with activity in the frontoparietal attention network. Critically, the observed negative entrainment effect on task accuracy was also fully mediated by activity in frontoparietal regions, signifying a propagation of the interfering alpha entrainment signal from bottom-up sensory to top-down regulatory networks.
- alpha oscillations
- visual entrainment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience