September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Neural oscillations, excitability and perceptual decisions
Author Affiliations
  • Niko Busch
    WWU Münster
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 5c. doi:
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      Niko Busch; Neural oscillations, excitability and perceptual decisions. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):5c.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Numerous studies have demonstrated that the power of ongoing alpha oscillations in the EEG is inversely related to neural excitability, as reflected in spike-firing rate, multi-unit activity, or the hemodynamic fMRI signal. Furthermore, alpha oscillations also affect behavioral performance in perceptual tasks. However, it is surprisingly unclear which latent perceptual or cognitive mechanisms mediate this effect. For example, an open question is whether neuronal excitability fluctuations induced by alpha oscillations affect an observer’s acuity or perceptual bias. I will present a series of experiments that aim to clarify the link between oscillatory power and perceptual performance. In short, these experiments indicate that performance during moments of weak pre-stimulus power, indicating greater excitability, is best described by a more liberal detection criterion rather than a change in detection sensitivity or discrimination accuracy. I will argue that this effect is due to an amplification of both signal and noise, and that this amplification occurs already during the first stages of visual processing.


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