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Brain Res. 2008 Sep 26;1232:163-72. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.07.030. Epub 2008 Jul 16.

Cross-frequency phase coupling of brain rhythms during the orienting response.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, P&S 3-440, 630 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


A critical function of the brain's orienting response is to evaluate novel environmental events in order to prepare for potential behavioral action. Here, measures of synchronization (power, coherence) and nonlinear cross-frequency phase coupling (m:n phase locking measured with bicoherence and cross-bicoherence) were computed on 62-channel electroencephalographic (EEG) data during a paradigm in which unexpected, highly-deviant, novel sounds were randomly intermixed with frequent standard and infrequent target tones. Low frequency resolution analyses showed no significant changes in phase coupling for any stimulus type, though significant changes in power and synchrony did occur. High frequency resolution analyses, on the other hand, showed significant differences in phase coupling, but only for novel sounds compared to standard tones. Novel sounds elicited increased power and coherence in the delta band together with m:n phase locking (bicoherence) of delta:theta (1:3) and delta:alpha (1:4) rhythms in widespread fronto-central, right parietal, temporal, and occipital regions. Cross-bicoherence revealed that globally synchronized delta oscillations were phase coupled to theta oscillations in central regions and to alpha oscillations in right parietal and posterior regions. These results suggest that globally synchronized low frequency oscillations with phase coupling to more localized higher frequency oscillations provide a neural mechanism for the orienting response.

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