Brain oscillatory activity within the alpha band has been associated with a wide range of processes encompassing perception, memory, decision-making, and overall cognitive functioning. Individual alpha frequency (IAF) is a specific parameter accounting for the mean velocity of the alpha cycling activity, conventionally ranging between ∼7 and ∼13 Hz. One influential hypothesis has proposed a fundamental role of this cycling activity in the segmentation of sensory input and in the regulation of the speed of sensory processing, with faster alpha oscillations resulting in greater temporal resolution and more refined perceptual experience. However, although several recent theoretical and empirical studies would support this account, contradictory evidence suggests caution and more systematic approaches in the assessment and interpretation of this hypothesis. For example, it remains to be explored to what degree IAF shapes perceptual outcomes. In the present study, we investigated whether inter-individual differences in bias-free visual contrast detection threshold in a large sample of individuals in the general population (n = 122) could be explained by inter-individual differences in alpha pace. Our results show that the contrast needed to correctly identify target stimuli (individual perceptual threshold) is associated with alpha peak frequency (not amplitude). Specifically, individuals who require reduced contrast show higher IAF than individuals requiring higher contrasts. This suggests that inter-individual differences in alpha frequency contribute to performance variability in low-level perceptual tasks, supporting the hypothesis that IAF underlies a fundamental temporal sampling mechanism that shapes visual objective performance, with higher frequencies promoting enhanced sensory evidence per time unit.

You do not currently have access to this content.