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Journal Article

Ongoing neural oscillations influence behavior and sensory representations by suppressing neuronal excitability


Nikulin,  Vadim V.
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Centre for Cognition and Decision Making, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian;

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Iemi, L., Gwilliams, L., Samaha, J., Auksztulewicz, R., Cycowicz, Y. M., King, J.-R., et al. (2022). Ongoing neural oscillations influence behavior and sensory representations by suppressing neuronal excitability. NeuroImage, 247: 118746. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118746.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-BAE2-6
The ability to process and respond to external input is critical for adaptive behavior. Why, then, do neural and behavioral responses vary across repeated presentations of the same sensory input? Ongoing fluctuations of neuronal excitability are currently hypothesized to underlie the trial-by-trial variability in sensory processing. To test this, we capitalized on intracranial electrophysiology in neurosurgical patients performing an auditory discrimination task with visual cues: specifically, we examined the interaction between prestimulus alpha oscillations, excitability, task performance, and decoded neural stimulus representations. We found that strong prestimulus oscillations in the alpha+ band (i.e., alpha and neighboring frequencies), rather than the aperiodic signal, correlated with a low excitability state, indexed by reduced broadband high-frequency activity. This state was related to slower reaction times and reduced neural stimulus encoding strength. We propose that the alpha+ rhythm modulates excitability, thereby resulting in variability in behavior and sensory representations despite identical input.