Beta oscillations (15-29Hz) are among the most prominent signatures of brain activity. Beta power is predictive of healthy and abnormal behaviors, including perception, attention and motor action. In non-averaged signals, beta can emerge as transient high-power 'events'. As such, functionally relevant differences in averaged power across time and trials can reflect changes in event number, power, duration, and/or frequency span. We show that functionally relevant differences in averaged beta power in primary somatosensory neocortex reflect a difference in the number of high-power beta events per trial, i.e. event rate. Further, beta events occurring close to the stimulus were more likely to impair perception. These results are consistent across detection and attention tasks in human magnetoencephalography, and in local field potentials from mice performing a detection task. These results imply that an increased propensity of beta events predicts the failure to effectively transmit information through specific neocortical representations.
Keywords: attention; beta rhythm; functional homology; human; mouse; neuroscience; perception; somatosensory; transient oscillation.