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Brain Stimul. 2012 Oct;5(4):484-91. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Transcranial alternating stimulation in a high gamma frequency range applied over V1 improves contrast perception but does not modulate spatial attention.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.


Spatial visual attention enhances information processing within its focus. Vision at an attended location is faster, more accurate, of higher spatial resolution, and has an enhanced sensitivity for fine changes. Earlier hypotheses suggest that the neuronal mechanisms of these processes are based on the interactions among different neuronal groups by means of cortical oscillations in the gamma range. The aim of the current study was to modulate these oscillations externally, using a new technique called transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS). We investigated the effect of covert spatial attention within and outside its focus by probing contrast sensitivity and contrast discrimination at high resolution across the visual field of 20 healthy human subjects. While applying 40, 60, and 80 Hz tAC stimulation over the primary visual cortex (V1), subjects' contrast-discrimination thresholds were obtained using two different conditions: in the first condition we presented a black disc as a peripheral cue that automatically attracted the subject's attention, whereas there was no cue in the second condition. We found that the spatial profile of contrast sensitivity was not affected by the stimulation. Contrast-discrimination thresholds on the other hand decreased significantly during 60 Hz tACS, whereas there was no effect of 40 and 80 Hz stimulation. These results suggest that attention plays an important role in contrast discrimination based on V1 activities that are influences by gamma range tACS stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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