Neuronal oscillations in various frequency bands have been reported in numerous studies in both humans and animals. While it is obvious that these oscillations play an important role in cognitive processing. It remains unclear how oscillations in various frequency bands interact. In this study we have investigated phase to power locking in MEG activity of healthy human subjects at rest with their eyes closed. To examine cross-frequency coupling, we have computed coherence between the time course of the power in a given frequency band and the signal itself within every channel. The time-course of the power was calculated using a sliding tapered time window followed by a Fourier transform. Our findings show that high-frequency gamma power (30-70 Hz) is phase-locked to alpha oscillations (8-13 Hz) in the ongoing MEG signals. The topography of the coupling was similar to the topography of the alpha power and was strongest over occipital areas. Interestingly, gamma activity per se was not evident in the power spectra and only became detectable when studied in relation to the alpha phase. Intracranial data from an epileptic subject confirmed these findings albeit there was slowing in both the alpha and gamma band. A tentative explanation for this phenomenon is that the visual system is inhibited during most of the alpha cycle whereas a burst of gamma activity at a specific alpha phase (e.g. at troughs) reflects a window of excitability.
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