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J Neurosci. 1996 Jul 1;16(13):4240-9.

Stimulus specificity of phase-locked and non-phase-locked 40 Hz visual responses in human.

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Brain Signals and Processing Laboratory, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Lyon, France.


Considerable interest has been raised by non-phase-locked episodes of synchronization in the gamma-band (30-60 Hz). One of their putative roles in the visual modality is feature-binding. We tested the stimulus specificity of high-frequency oscillations in humans using three types of visual stimuli: two coherent stimuli (a Kanizsa and a real triangle) and a noncoherent stimulus ("no-triangle stimulus"). The task of the subject was to count the occurrences of a curved illusory triangle. A time-frequency analysis of single-trial EEG data recorded from eight human subjects was performed to characterize phase-locked as well as non-phase-locked high-frequency activities. We found in early phase-locked 40 Hz component, maximal at electrodes Cz-C4, which does not vary with stimulation type. We describe a second 40 Hz component, appearing around 280 msec, that is not phase-locked to stimulus onset. This component is stronger in response to a coherent triangle, whether real or illusory: it could reflect, therefore, a mechanism of feature binding based on high-frequency synchronization. Because both the illusory and the real triangle are more target-like, it could also correspond to an oscillatory mechanism for testing the match between stimulus and target. At the same latencies, the low-frequency evoked response components phase-locked to stimulus onset behave differently, suggesting that low- and high-frequency activities have different functional roles.

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