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In the absence of cognitive tasks and external stimuli, strong rhythmic fluctuations with a frequency ≈ 10 Hz emerge from posterior regions of human neocortex. These posterior α-oscillations can be recorded throughout the visual cortex and are particularly strong in the calcarine sulcus, where the primary visual cortex is located. The mechanisms and anatomical pathways through which local \alpha-oscillations are coordinated however, are not fully understood. In this study, we used a combination of magnetoencephalography (MEG), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and biophysical modeling to assess the role of white-matter pathways in coordinating cortical α-oscillations. Our findings suggest that primary visual cortex plays a special role in coordinating α-oscillations in higher-order visual regions. Specifically, the amplitudes of α-sources throughout visual cortex could be explained by propagation of α-oscillations from primary visual cortex through white-matter pathways. In particular, α-amplitudes within visual cortex correlated with both the anatomical and functional connection strengths to primary visual cortex. These findings reinforce the notion of posterior α-oscillations as intrinsic oscillations of the visual system. We speculate that they might reflect a default-mode of the visual system during which higher-order visual regions are rhythmically primed for expected visual stimuli by α-oscillations in primary visual cortex.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





328 - 339


Adult, Alpha Rhythm, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Female, Humans, Magnetoencephalography, Male, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways, Rest, Visual Cortex, White Matter, Young Adult