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Directed Communication between Nucleus Accumbens and Neocortex in Humans Is Differentially Supported by Synchronization in the Theta and Alpha Band

Publication year 2015
Published in PLoS One
Authors Jörn M Horschig, Ruud Smolders, Mathilde Bonnefond, Jan-Mathijs Schoffelen, Pepijn van den Munckhof, P Richard Schuurman, Roshan Cools, D. Denys, Ole Jensen

Here, we report evidence for oscillatory bi-directional interactions between the nucleus accumbens and the neocortex in humans. Six patients performed a demanding covert visual attention task while we simultaneously recorded brain activity from deep-brain electrodes implanted in the nucleus accumbens and the surface electroencephalogram (EEG). Both theta and alpha oscillations were strongly coherent with the frontal and parietal EEG during the task. Theta-band coherence increased during processing of the visual stimuli. Granger causality analysis revealed that the nucleus accumbens was communicating with the neocortex primarily in the theta-band, while the cortex was communicating the nucleus accumbens in the alpha-band. These data are consistent with a model, in which theta- and alpha-band oscillations serve dissociable roles: Prior to stimulus processing, the cortex might suppress ongoing processing in the nucleus accumbens by modulating alpha-band activity. Subsequently, upon stimulus presentation, theta oscillations might facilitate the active exchange of stimulus information from the nucleus accumbens to the cortex.

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