Medial prefrontal theta bursts precede rapid motor responses during visual selective attention

J Neurosci. 2007 Oct 31;27(44):11949-59. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3477-07.2007.


After visual target stimuli presented infrequently at a covertly attended location, quicker speeded button presses immediately followed a larger positive (P3f) ramp in averaged electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings from the forehead. We show this peak in the mean response time locked to the button press to be principally composed of triphasic, primarily low-theta band (4.5 Hz) complexes preceding but only partially phase-locked to the button press, with larger complexes preceding quicker motor responses. For 10 of 15 subjects, independent component analysis of the unaveraged 31-channel data identified a temporally independent medial frontal EEG process contributing to these phenomena. Low-resolution tomographic modeling localized related components of two 253-channel data sets to medial frontal polar cortex (BA32/10). The far-frontal low-theta complexes and concomitant mean P3f positivity may index cortical activity induced by paralimbic processes involved in disinhibiting impulsive motor responses to rewarding or goal-fulfilling stimuli or events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Theta Rhythm*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology*