The Frequency and Timing of Beta Bursts Predict Attention and Perception

To better understand the brain and to develop potential therapies, neuroscientists from Brown University have been investigating the role of beta frequency brainwaves in attending to and detecting sensory stimuli. In a study involving both rodent and human participants, the scientists looked into the impact of the pre-stimulus beta waves generated in the sensorimotor cortex, on the perception of the stimulus.

A trial-to-trial investigation of the characteristics of the beta rhythm and their relationship with the sensory stimulus, revealed that:

  • Increased pre-stimulus beta power impairs stimulus attention and perception
  • The higher the number of pre-stimulus 20Hz beta bursts, the less likely is that both humans and mice would detect the consequent sensory stimulation
  • The closer the temporal proximity of the most recent beta burst to the stimulus, the poorer its detection
  • Beta does not occur rhythmically but in task dependent modulated bursts

Here is the link to the Brown University News article