Reciprocal modulation of neuromagnetic induced gamma activity by attention in the human visual and auditory cortex

Alexander Sokolov, Marina Pavlova, Werner Lutzenberger, Niels Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For attentional control of behavior, the brain permanently resolves a competition between the impressions supplied by different senses. Here, using a dual-modality temporal order detection task, we studied attentional modulation of oscillatory neuromagnetic activity in the human cerebral cortex. On each trial, after simultaneous exposure to visual and auditory noise, subjects were presented with an asynchronous pair of a visual and an auditory stimulus. Either of the two stimuli could occur first equally often, their order was not cued. Subjects had to determine the leading stimulus in a pair and attentively monitor it to respond upon its offset. With the attended visual or auditory stimuli, spectral power analysis revealed marked enhancements of induced gamma activity within 250 ms post-stimulus onset over the modality-specific cortices (occipital at 64 Hz, right temporal at 53 Hz). When unattended, however, the stimuli led to a significantly decreased (beneath baseline) gamma response in these cortical regions. The gamma decreases occurred at lower frequencies (∼30 Hz) than did the gamma increases. An increase in the gamma power and frequency for the attended modality and their decrease for the unattended modality suggest that attentional regulation of multisensory processing involves reciprocal changes in synchronization of respective cortical networks. We assume that the gamma decrease reflects an active suppression of the task-irrelevant sensory input. This suppression occurs at lower frequencies, suggesting an involvement of larger scale cell assemblies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • Attentional modulation
  • Auditory stimulation
  • Gamma-band activity
  • Human cerebral cortex
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Visual motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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