Alpha/beta power decreases track the fidelity of stimulus specific information

Benjamin James Griffiths, Stephen D. Mayhew, Karen J. Mullinger, João Jorge, Ian Charest, Maria Wimber, Simon Hanslmayr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Massed synchronised neuronal firing is detrimental to information processing. When networks of task irrelevant neurons fire in unison, they mask the signal generated by task‐critical neurons. On a macroscopic level, such synchronisation can contribute to alpha/beta (8‐30Hz) oscillations. Reducing the amplitude of these oscillations, therefore, may enhance information processing. Here, we test this hypothesis. Twenty‐one participants completed an associative memory task while undergoing simultaneous EEG‐fMRI recordings. Using representational similarity analysis, we quantified the amount of stimulus‐specific information represented within the BOLD signal on every trial. When correlating this metric with concurrently‐recorded alpha/beta power, we found a significant negative correlation which indicated that as post‐stimulus alpha/beta power decreased, stimulus‐specific information increased. Critically, we found this effect in three unique tasks: Visual perception, auditory perception, and visual memory retrieval, indicating that this phenomenon transcends both  stimulus modality and cognitive task. These results indicate that alpha/beta power decreases parametrically track the fidelity of both externally‐presented and internally‐generated stimulus‐specific information represented within the cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere49562
Number of pages22
Early online date29 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


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