Behavioural oscillations in visual orientation discrimination reveal distinct modulation rates for both sensitivity and response bias, Sci Rep, 1 (9), 1115.
Perception is modulated by ongoing brain oscillations. Psychophysical studies show a voluntary action can synchronize oscillations, producing rhythmical fluctuations of visual contrast sensitivity. We used signal detection to examine whether voluntary action could also synchronize oscillations in decision criterion, and whether that was due to the oscillations of perceptual bias or of motor bias. Trials started with a voluntary button-press. After variable time lags, a grating at threshold contrast was presented briefly and participants discriminated its orientation (45 degrees or -45 degrees ) with a mouse-click. Two groups of participants completed the experiment with opposite mappings between grating orientations and response buttons. We calculated sensitivity and criterion in the 800 ms period following the button press. To test for oscillations, we fitted first-order Fourier series to these time series. Alpha oscillations occurred in both sensitivity and criterion at different frequencies: ~8 Hz (sensitivity) and ~10 Hz (criterion). Sensitivity oscillations had the same phase for both stimulus-response mappings. Criterion oscillations, however, showed a strong anti-phase relationship when the two groups were compared, suggesting a motor bias rather than perceptual bias. Our findings suggest two roles for alpha oscillations: in sensitivity, reflecting rhythmic attentional inhibition, and in criterion, indicating dynamic motor-related anticipation or preparation.