The Effect of Alpha tACS on the Temporal Resolution of Visual Perception

Luca Battaglini, Federica Mena, Andrea Ghiani, Clara Casco, David Melcher, Luca Ronconi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We experience the world around us as a smooth and continuous flow. However, there is growing evidence that the stream of sensory inputs is not elaborated in an analog way but is instead organized in discrete or quasi-discrete temporal processing windows. These discrete windows are suggested to depend on rhythmic neural activity in the alpha (and theta) frequency bands, which in turn reflect changes in neural activity within, and coupling between, cortical areas. In the present study, we investigated a possible causal link between oscillatory brain activity in the alpha range (8–12 Hz) and the temporal resolution of visual perception, which determines whether sequential stimuli are perceived as distinct entities or combined into a single representation. To this aim, we employed a two-flash fusion task while participants received focal transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) in extra-striate visual regions including V5/MT of the right hemisphere. Our findings show that 10-Hz tACS, as opposed to a placebo (sham tACS), reduces the temporal resolution of perception, inducing participants to integrate the two stimuli into a unique percept more often. This pattern was observed only in the contralateral visual hemifield, providing further support for a specific effect of alpha tACS. The present findings corroborate the idea of a causal link between temporal windows of integration/segregation and oscillatory alpha activity in V5/MT and extra-striate visual regions. They also stimulate future research on possible ways to shape the temporal resolution of human vision in an individualized manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1765
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 31 2020

Keywords

  • attention
  • EEG alpha activity
  • neural oscillations
  • perception
  • transcranial AC stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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