2.8
Impact Factor

Review ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 09 April 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00060

Ongoing EEG phase as a trial-by-trial predictor of perceptual and attentional variability

  • 1 Université de Toulouse, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France
  • 2 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 5549, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, Toulouse, France
  • 3 Institute of Medical Psychology, Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 4 Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany
  • 5 Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA, USA

Even in well-controlled laboratory environments, apparently identical repetitions of an experimental trial can give rise to highly variable perceptual outcomes and behavioral responses. This variability is generally discarded as a reflection of intrinsic noise in neuronal systems. However, part of this variability may be accounted for by trial-by-trial fluctuations of the phase of ongoing oscillations at the moment of stimulus presentation. For example, the phase of an electro-encephalogram (EEG) oscillation reflecting the rapid waxing and waning of sustained attention can predict the perception of a subsequent visual stimulus at threshold. Similar ongoing periodicities account for a portion of the trial-by-trial variability of visual reaction times. We review the available experimental evidence linking ongoing EEG phase to perceptual and attentional variability, and the corresponding methodology. We propose future tests of this relation, and discuss the theoretical implications for understanding the neuronal dynamics of sensory perception.

Keywords: EEG, oscillation, phase, pre-stimulus, spontaneous, ongoing, perception, attention

Citation: VanRullen R, Busch NA, Drewes J and Dubois J (2011) Ongoing EEG phase as a trial-by-trial predictor of perceptual and attentional variability. Front. Psychology 2:60. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00060

Received: 12 January 2011; Paper pending published: 26 January 2011;
Accepted: 24 March 2011; Published online: 09 April 2011.

Edited by:

Guillaume A. Rousselet, University of Glasgow, UK

Reviewed by:

Peter Lakatos, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
Gregor Thut, University of Glasgow, UK

Copyright: © 2011 VanRullen, Busch, Drewes and Dubois. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: R. VanRullen, Université de Toulouse, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Université Paul Sabatier, 31062 Toulouse, France. e-mail: rufin.vanrullen@cerco.ups-tlse.fr