Efficiency of conscious access improves with coupling of slow and fast neural oscillations

J Cogn Neurosci. 2014 May;26(5):1168-79. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00540. Epub 2013 Dec 17.


Global workspace access is considered as a critical factor for the ability to report a visual target. A plausible candidate mechanism for global workspace access is coupling of slow and fast brain activity. We studied coupling in EEG data using cross-frequency phase-amplitude modulation measurement between delta/theta phases and beta/gamma amplitudes from two experimental sessions, held on different days, of a typical attentional blink (AB) task, implying conscious access to targets. As the AB effect improved with practice between sessions, theta-gamma and theta-beta coupling increased generically. Most importantly, practice effects observed in delta-gamma and delta-beta couplings were specific to performance on the AB task. In particular, delta-gamma coupling showed the largest increase in cases of correct target detection in the most challenging AB conditions. All these practice effects were observed in the right temporal region. Given that the delta band is the main frequency of the P3 ERP, which is a marker of global workspace activity for conscious access, and because the gamma band is involved in visual object processing, the current results substantiate the role of phase-amplitude modulation in conscious access to visual target representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult