Gamma coherence and conscious perception
Meador KJ, et al.; Neurology 2002;59:847-854.
High-frequency (e.g., gamma 30 to 50 Hz) coherent neural activity has been postulated to underlie binding of independent neural assemblies and thus integrate processing across distributed neuronal networks to achieve a unified conscious experience. Prior studies suggest that gamma activity may play a role in perceptual mechanisms, but design limitations raise concerns. Thus, controversy exists as to the hypothesis that gamma activity is necessary for perceptual awareness. In addition, controversy exists as to whether the primary sensory cortices are involved directly in the mechanisms of conscious perception or just in processes prior to conscious awareness.
Objective: To investigate the relation of gamma coherence and perception.
Methods: Digital intracranial electrocorticographic recordings from implanted electrodes were obtained in six patients with intractable epilepsy during a simple somatosensory detection task for near-threshold stimuli applied to the contralateral hand. Signal analyses were then conducted using a quantitative approach that employed two-way Hanning digital bandpass filters to compute running correlations across pairs of channels at various time epochs for each patient and each perception state across multiple bandwidths.
Results: Gamma coherence occurs in the primary somatosensory cortex approximately 150 to 300 milliseconds after contralateral hand stimuli that are perceived, but not for nonperceived stimuli, which did not differ in character/intensity or early somatosensory evoked potentials.
Conclusion: The results are consistent with the possible direct involvement of primary sensory cortex in elemental awareness and with a role for gamma coherence in conscious perception.
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