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Trial - by - trial variations of visual reaction time relation with the phase of ongoing and evoked EEG

Trial - by - trial variations of visual reaction time relation with the phase of ongoing and evoked EEG

Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer & Itinerary Planner : Abstract No 934 23

Reaction time (RT) distributions are highly variable, with standard deviations on the order of 100 ms or more. The origin of this variability is not known, and often attributed to noise in visual, decisional and/or motor processes. In a framework where information processing occurs in "discrete" epochs, underlied by neuronal oscillatory processes, one would expect RTs to covary with the phase of such oscillations. I tested whether the phase of EEG activity on various electrode sites, at different frequencies, and at different peri-stimulus times correlates with reaction time on a trial-by-trial basis. 17 subjects performed a natural scene categorization task (animal vs. non-animal) in a go/no-go fashion. More than 600 target trials were collected for each subject. 32-channel EEG was recorded concurrently. Statistically significant correlations between EEG phase and RT were found mostly in low frequency bands (e.g. alpha rather than gamma) and started between 50 and 100 ms after stimulus presentation. The relevant processes are thus likely to correspond to "evoked" as well as "ongoing" neuronal activity. The correlation between phase and RT could be used to predict the subject's reaction time (i.e. slow/fast RT) on each trial. The resulting predictions were significantly above chance level, but remained marginal (i.e. below 65%). The maximum predictability occurred around 300-350 ms on parietal electrode sites, and probably corresponded to the motor response. An earlier peak of predictability was also found around 100-150 ms on occipital electrode sites. It is hypothesized that this peak corresponds to the effect of ongoing and evoked EEG phase on the duration of visual processing.

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