Antiphasic 40 Hz oscillatory current stimulation affects bistable motion perception

Brain Topogr. 2014 Jan;27(1):158-71. doi: 10.1007/s10548-013-0294-x. Epub 2013 May 25.


When viewing ambiguous stimuli, conscious perception alternates spontaneously between competing interpretations of physically unchanged stimulus information. As one possible neural mechanism underlying the perceptual switches, it has been suggested that neurons dynamically change their pattern of synchronized oscillatory activity in the gamma band (30-80 Hz). In support of this hypothesis, there is correlative evidence from human electroencephalographic (EEG) studies for gamma band modulations during ambiguous perception. To establish a causal role of gamma band oscillations in the current study, we applied transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) at 40 Hz over occipital-parietal areas of both hemispheres during the presentation of bistable apparent motion stimuli that can be perceived as moving either horizontally or vertically. In this paradigm, the switch between horizontal and vertical apparent motion is likely to involve a change in interhemispheric functional coupling. We examined gamma tACS effects on the durations of perceived horizontal and vertical motion as well as on interhemispheric EEG coherence and found a decreased proportion of perceived horizontal motion together with an increase of interhemispheric gamma band coherence. In a control experiment using 6 Hz tACS, we did not observe any stimulation effects on behavior or coherence. Furthermore, external stimulation at 40 Hz was only effective when applied with 180° phase difference between hemispheres (anti-phase), as compared to in-phase stimulation with 0° phase difference. These findings suggest that externally desynchronizing gamma oscillations between hemispheres impairs interhemispheric motion integration and in turn biases conscious experience of bistable apparent motion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Young Adult