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Publisher: Journals Gateway
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2015) 27 (9): 1811–1822.
Published: 01 September 2015
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AbstractView article PDF
Temporal cues can be used to selectively attend to relevant information during abundant sensory stimulation. However, such cues differ vastly in the accuracy of their temporal estimates, ranging from very predictable to very unpredictable. When cues are strongly predictable, attention may facilitate selective processing by aligning relevant incoming information to high neuronal excitability phases of ongoing low-frequency oscillations. However, top–down effects on ongoing oscillations when temporal cues have some predictability, but also contain temporal uncertainties, are unknown. Here, we experimentally created such a situation of mixed predictability and uncertainty: A target could occur within a limited time window after cue but was always unpredictable in exact timing. Crucially to assess top–down effects in such a mixed situation, we manipulated target probability. High target likelihood, compared with low likelihood, enhanced delta oscillations more strongly as measured by evoked power and intertrial coherence. Moreover, delta phase modulated detection rates for probable targets. The delta frequency range corresponds with half-a-period to the target occurrence window and therefore suggests that low-frequency phase reset is engaged to produce a long window of high excitability when event timing is uncertain within a restricted temporal window.