January 19, 2021

Reduced alpha amplitudes predict perceptual suppression

The amplitude of prestimulus alpha oscillations over parieto-occipital cortex has been shown to predict visual detection of masked and threshold-level stimuli. Whether alpha activity similarly predicts target visibility in perceptual suppression paradigms, another type of illusion commonly used to investigate visual awareness, is presently unclear. Here, we examined prestimulus alpha activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG) of healthy participants in the context of a generalized flash suppression (GFS) task during which salient target stimuli are rendered subjectively invisible in a subset of trials following the onset of a full-field motion stimulus. Unlike for masking or threshold paradigms, alpha (8-12 Hz) amplitude prior to motion onset was significantly higher when targets remained subjectively visible compared to trials during which the targets became perceptually suppressed. Furthermore, individual prestimulus alpha amplitudes strongly correlated with the individual trial-to-trial variability quenching following motion stimulus onset, indicating that variability quenching in visual cortex is closely linked to prestimulus alpha activity. We conclude that predictive correlates of conscious perception derived from perceptual suppression paradigms differ substantially from those of obtained with near threshold paradigms, possibly reflecting the effectiveness of the suppressor stimulus.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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