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The relation of brain oscillations to attentional networks.

Previous studies have suggested the relation of particular frequency bands such as theta (4-8 Hz), alpha (8-14 Hz), beta (14-30 Hz), or gamma (>30 Hz) to cognitive functions. However, there has been controversy over which bands are specifically related to attention. We used the attention network test to separate three anatomically defined brain networks that carry out the functions of alerting, orienting, and executive control of attention. High-density scalp electrical recording was performed to record synchronous oscillatory activity and power spectrum analyses based on functional magnetic resonance imaging constrained dipole modeling were conducted for each attentional network. We found that each attentional network has a distinct set of oscillations related to its activity. The alerting network showed a specific decrease in theta-, alpha-, and beta-band activity 200-450 ms after a warning signal. The orienting network showed an increase in gamma-band activity at approximately 200 ms after a spatial cue, indicating the location of a target. The executive control network revealed a complex pattern when a target was surrounded with incongruent flankers compared with congruent flankers. There was an early (<400 ms) increase in gamma-band activity, a later (>400 ms) decrease in beta- and low gamma-band activity after the target onset, and a decrease of all frequency bands before response followed by an increase after the response. These data demonstrate that attention is not related to any single frequency band but that each network has a distinct oscillatory activity and time course.

Pubmed ID: 17553991


  • Fan J
  • Byrne J
  • Worden MS
  • Guise KG
  • McCandliss BD
  • Fossella J
  • Posner MI


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Data

June 6, 2007

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Biological Clocks
  • Brain
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time