Rhythmic modulation of visual contrast discrimination triggered by action

Alessandro Benedetto, Donatella Spinelli, M. Concetta Morrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence suggests that ongoing brain oscillations may be instrumental in binding and integrating multisensory signals. In this experiment, we investigated the temporal dynamics of visual-motor integration processes. We show that action modulates sensitivity to visual contrast discrimination in a rhythmic fashion at frequencies of about 5 Hz (in the theta range), for up to 1 s after execution of action. To understand the origin of the oscillations, we measured oscillations in contrast sensitivity at different levels of luminance, which is known to affect the endogenous brain rhythms, boosting the power of alpha-frequencies. We found that the frequency of oscillation in sensitivity increased at low luminance, probably reflecting the shift in mean endogenous brain rhythm towards higher frequencies. Importantly, both at high and at low luminance, contrast discrimination showed a rhythmic motor-induced suppression effect, with the suppression occurring earlier at low luminance. We suggest that oscillations play a key role in sensory-motor integration, and that the motor-induced suppression may reflect the first manifestation of a rhythmic oscillation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20160692
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1831
Publication statusPublished - May 25 2016


  • Action and perception
  • Contrast discrimination
  • Endogenous rhythm
  • Sensory-motor integration
  • Visual oscillations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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