Task and Regions Specific Top-Down Modulation of Alpha Rhythms in Parietal Cortex.

Research paper by Paolo P Capotosto, Antonello A Baldassarre, Carlo C Sestieri, Sara S Spadone, Gian Luca GL Romani, Maurizio M Corbetta

Indexed on: 08 Sep '16Published on: 08 Sep '16Published in: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)


Alpha (8-12 Hz) power desynchronization is strongly associated to visual perception but has been observed in a large variety of tasks, indicating a general role in task anticipation. We previously reported in human observers that interference by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of core regions of the dorsal attention network (DAN) disrupts both anticipatory alpha desynchronization and performance during a visuospatial attention (VSA) task. Here, we test the hypothesis that alpha desynchronization is task specific, and can be selectively modulated by interfering with activity in different higher-order parietal regions. We contrast the effects of rTMS on alpha rhythms and behavior on 2 different tasks: a VSA and a semantic decision task, by targeting the posterior intraparietal sulcus (pIPS), a core region of the DAN, or the angular gyrus (AG), a core region of the default mode network (DMN). We found that both performance and anticipatory alpha desynchronization were affected by stimulation of IPS only during VSA, and of AG only during semantic decisions. These findings indicate the existence of multiple dedicated parietal channels for the modulation of anticipatory alpha rhythms, which in turn reflect task-specific modulation of excitability in human parieto-occipital cortex.