Document Type


Publication Date



80817698 (Orcid)


The posterior alpha (α) rhythm, seen in human electroencephalogram (EEG), is posited to originate from cycling inhibitory/excitatory states of visual relay cells in the thalamus. These cycling states are thought to lead to oscillating visual sensitivity levels termed the “neuronic shutter effect.” If true, perceptual performance should be predictable by observed α phase (of cycling inhibitory/excitatory states) relative to the timeline of afferentiation onto the visual cortex. Here, we tested this hypothesis by presenting contrast changes at near perceptual threshold intensity through closed eyelids to 20 participants (balanced for gender) during times of spontaneous α oscillations. To more accurately and rigorously test the shutter hypothesis than ever before, α rhythm phase and amplitude were calculated relative to each individual’s retina-to-primary visual cortex (V1) conduction delay, estimated from the individual’s C1 visual-evoked potential (VEP) latency. Our results show that stimulus observation rates (ORs) are greater at a trough than a peak of the posterior α rhythm when phase is measured at the individual’s conduction delay relative to stimulus onset. Specifically, the optimal phase for stimulus observation was found to be 272.41°, where ORs are 20.96% greater than the opposing phase of 92.41°. The perception-phase relationship is modulated by α rhythm amplitude and is not observed at lower amplitude oscillations. Collectively, these results provide support to the “neuronic shutter” hypothesis and demonstrate a phase and timing relationship consistent with the theory that cycling excitability in the thalamic relay cells underly posterior α oscillations.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.