Spatial attention increases high-frequency gamma synchronisation in human medial visual cortex

Loes Koelewijn*, Anina N. Rich, Suresh D. Muthukumaraswamy, Krish D. Singh

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)


    Visual information processing involves the integration of stimulus and goal-driven information, requiring neuronal communication. Gamma synchronisation is linked to neuronal communication, and is known to be modulated in visual cortex both by stimulus properties and voluntarily-directed attention. Stimulus-driven modulations of gamma activity are particularly associated with early visual areas such as V1, whereas attentional effects are generally localised to higher visual areas such as V4. The absence of a gamma increase in early visual cortex is at odds with robust attentional enhancements found with other measures of neuronal activity in this area. Here we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to explore the effect of spatial attention on gamma activity in human early visual cortex using a highly effective gamma-inducing stimulus and strong attentional manipulation. In separate blocks, subjects tracked either a parafoveal grating patch that induced gamma activity in contralateral medial visual cortex, or a small line at fixation, effectively attending away from the gamma-inducing grating. Both items were always present, but rotated unpredictably and independently of each other. The rotating grating induced gamma synchronisation in medial visual cortex at 30-70. Hz, and in lateral visual cortex at 60-90. Hz, regardless of whether it was attended. Directing spatial attention to the grating increased gamma synchronisation in medial visual cortex, but only at 60-90. Hz. These results suggest that the generally found increase in gamma activity by spatial attention can be localised to early visual cortex in humans, and that stimulus and goal-driven modulations may be mediated at different frequencies within the gamma range.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)295-303
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


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