The most salient electrical signal measured from the human brain is the α-rhythm, neural activity oscillating at ∼100ms intervals. Recent findings challenge the longstanding dogma of α-band oscillations as the signature of a passively idling brain state but diverge in terms of interpretation. Despite firm correlations with behavior, the mechanistic role of the α-rhythm in brain function remains debated. We suggest that three large-scale brain networks involved in different facets of top-down cognitive control differentially modulate α-oscillations, ranging from power within and synchrony between brain regions. Thereby, these networks selectively influence local signal processing, widespread information exchange, and ultimately perception and behavior.
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