November 29, 2020

Modulation of Individual Alpha Frequency with tACS shifts Time Perception

Previous studies have linked brain oscillation and timing, with evidence suggesting that alpha oscillations (10Hz) may serve as a sample rate for the visual system. However, direct manipulation of alpha oscillations and time perception has not yet been demonstrated. Eighteen subjects performed a time generalization task with visual stimuli. Participants first learned the standard intervals (600 ms) and then were required to judge the new temporal intervals if they were equal or different compared to the standard. Additionally, we had previously recorded resting-state EEG from each subject and calculated their Individual Alpha Frequency (IAF), estimated as the peak frequency from the mean spectrum over posterior electrodes between 8 and 13 Hz. After learning the standard interval, participants performed the time generalization task while receiving occipital transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS). Crucially, for each subject, tACS was administered at their IAF or at off-peak alpha frequencies (IAF+/-2 Hz). Results demonstrated a linear shift in the psychometric function indicating a modification of perceived duration, such that progressively faster alpha stimulation led to longer perceived intervals. These results provide the first evidence that direct manipulations of alpha oscillations can shift perceived time in a manner consistent with a clock speed effect.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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