Coupling between theta oscillations and cognitive control network during cross-modal visual and auditory attention: Supramodal vs modality-specific mechanisms

Cortical theta band oscillations (4–8 Hz) in EEG signals have been shown to be important for a variety of different cognitive control operations in visual attention paradigms. However the synchronization source of these signals as defined by fMRI BOLD activity and the extent to which theta oscillations play a role in multimodal attention remains unknown. Here we investigated the extent to which cross-modal visual and auditory attention impacts theta oscillations. Using a simultaneous EEG-fMRI paradigm, healthy human participants performed an attentional vigilance task with six cross-modal conditions using naturalistic stimuli. To assess supramodal mechanisms, modulation of theta oscillation amplitude for attention to either visual or auditory stimuli was correlated with BOLD activity by conjunction analysis. Negative correlation was localized to cortical regions associated with the default mode network and positively with ventral premotor areas. Modality-associated attention to visual stimuli was marked by a positive correlation of theta and BOLD activity in fronto-parietal area that was not observed in the auditory condition. A positive correlation of theta and BOLD activity was observed in auditory cortex, while a negative correlation of theta and BOLD activity was observed in visual cortex during auditory attention. The data support a supramodal interaction of theta activity with of DMN function, and modality-associated processes within fronto-parietal networks related to top-down theta related cognitive control in cross-modal visual attention. On the other hand, in sensory cortices there are opposing effects of theta activity during cross-modal auditory attention.

Wang, W., Viswanathan, S., Lee, T. and Grafton, S.T.
PLoS One
Volume: 11
Number: 17
Pages: e0158465
Date: July, 2016
ICB Affiliated Authors: Scott T Grafton