Connecting occipital alpha band peak frequency, visual temporal resolution, and occipital GABA levels in healthy participants and hepatic encephalopathy patients


Recent studies have proposed a connection between the individual alpha band peak frequency and the temporal resolution of visual perception in healthy human participants. This connection rests on animal studies describing oscillations in the alpha band as a mode of phasic thalamocortical information transfer for low-level visual stimuli, which critically relies on GABAergic interneurons. Here, we investigated the interplay of these parameters by measuring occipital alpha band peak frequency by means of magnetoencephalography, visual temporal resolution by means of behavioral testing, and occipital GABA levels by means of magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Importantly, we investigated a sample of healthy participants and patients with varying grades of hepatic encephalopathy, which are known to exhibit decreases in the investigated parameters, thus providing an increased parameter space. We found that occipital alpha band peak frequency and visual temporal resolution were positively correlated, i.e., higher occipital alpha band peak frequencies were on average related to a higher temporal resolution. Likewise, occipital alpha band peak frequency correlated positively with occipital GABA levels. However, correlations were significant only when both healthy participants and patients were included in the analysis, thereby indicating a connection of the measures on group level (instead of the individual level). These findings provide new insights into neurophysiological and neurochemical underpinnings of visual perception.

Neuroimage Clin