The relationship between self-awareness of attentional status, behavioral performance and oscillatory brain rhythms

Noriko Yamagishi*, Stephen Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-level cognitive factors, including self-awareness, are believed to play an important role in human visual perception. The principal aim of this study was to determine whether oscillatory brain rhythms play a role in the neural processes involved in self-monitoring attentional status. To do so we measured cortical activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants were asked to self-monitor their internal status, only initiating the presentation of a stimulus when they perceived their attentional focus to be maximal. We employed a hierarchical Bayesian method that uses fMRI results as soft-constrained spatial information to solve the MEG inverse problem, allowing us to estimate cortical currents in the order of millimeters and milliseconds. Our results show that, during self-monitoring of internal status, there was a sustained decrease in power within the 7-13 Hz (alpha) range in the rostral cingulate motor area (rCMA) on the human medial wall, beginning approximately 430 msec after the trial start (p < 0.05, FDR corrected). We also show that gamma-band power (41-47 Hz) within this area was positively correlated with task performance from 40-640 msec after the trial start (r = 0.71, p < 0.05). We conclude: (1) the rCMA is involved in processes governing self-monitoring of internal status; and (2) the qualitative differences between alpha and gamma activity are reflective of their different roles in self-monitoring internal states. We suggest that alpha suppression may reflect a strengthening of top-down interareal connections, while a positive correlation between gamma activity and task performance indicates that gamma may play an important role in guiding visuomotor behavior. © 2013 Yamagishi et al.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere74962
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Yamagishi et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • attention
  • gamma
  • oscillatory activity
  • self-awareness


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