Alpha activity reflects individual abilities to adapt to the environment

Neuroimage. 2014 Apr 1:89:235-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.12.018. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Recent findings suggest that oscillatory alpha activity (7-13Hz) is associated with functional inhibition of sensory regions by filtering incoming information. Accordingly the alpha power in visual regions varies in anticipation of upcoming, predictable stimuli which has consequences for visual processing and subsequent behavior. In covert spatial attention studies it has been demonstrated that performance correlates with the adaptation of alpha power in response to explicit spatial cueing. However it remains unknown whether such an adaptation also occurs in response to implicit statistical properties of a task. In a covert attention switching paradigm, we here show evidence that individuals differ on how they adapt to implicit statistical properties of the task. Subjects whose behavioral performance reflects the implicit change in switch trial likelihood show strong adjustment of anticipatory alpha power lateralization. Most importantly, the stronger the behavioral adjustment to the switch trial likelihood was, the stronger the adjustment of anticipatory posterior alpha lateralization. We conclude that anticipatory spatial attention is reflected in the distribution of posterior alpha band power which is predictive of individual detection performance in response to the implicit statistical properties of the task.

Keywords: Adaptation; Alpha lateralization; Alpha modulation; Attention switching; Covert attention; Individual differences; Magnetoencephalography; Oscillations; Statistics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult