Oscillatory alpha modulations in right auditory regions reflect the validity of acoustic cues in an auditory spatial attention task

Cereb Cortex. 2014 Oct;24(10):2579-90. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht113. Epub 2013 May 3.


Anticipation of targets in the left or right hemifield leads to alpha modulations in posterior brain areas. Recently using magnetoencephalography, we showed increased right auditory alpha activity when attention was cued ipsilaterally. Here, we investigated the issue how cue validity itself influences oscillatory alpha activity. Acoustic cues were presented either to the right or left ear, followed by a compound dichotically presented target plus distractor. The preceding cue was either informative (75% validity) or uninformative (50%) about the location of the upcoming target. Cue validity × side-related alpha modulations were identified in pre- and posttarget periods in a right lateralized network, comprising auditory and nonauditory regions. This replicates and extends our previous finding of the right hemispheric dominance of auditory attentional modulations. Importantly, effective connectivity analysis showed that, in the pretarget period, this effect is accompanied by a pronounced and time-varying connectivity pattern of the right auditory cortex to the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS), with influence of IPS on superior temporal gyrus dominating at earlier intervals of the cue-target period. Our study underlines the assumption that alpha oscillations may play a similar functional role in auditory cortical regions as reported in other sensory modalities and suggests that these effects may be mediated via IPS.

Keywords: alpha oscillations; auditory cortex; intraparietal sulcus; magnetoencephalography; spatial attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult