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Cortical entrainment to hierarchical contextual rhythms recomposes dynamic attending in visual perception

By Peijun Yuan, Ruichen Hu, Xue Zhang, Ying Wang, Yi Jiang

Posted 22 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.21.423786

Temporal regularity is ubiquitous and essential to guiding attention and coordinating behavior within a dynamic environment. Previous researchers have modeled attention as an internal rhythm that may entrain to first-order regularity from rhythmic events to prioritize information selection at specific time points. Using the attentional blink paradigm, here we show that higher-order regularity based on rhythmic organization of contextual features (pitch, color, or motion) may serve as a temporal frame to recompose the dynamic profile of visual temporal attention. Critically, such attentional reframing effect is well predicted by cortical entrainment to the higher-order contextual structure at the delta band as well as its coupling with the stimulus-driven alpha power. These results suggest that the human brain involuntarily exploits multiscale regularities in rhythmic contexts to recompose dynamic attending in visual perception, and highlight neural entrainment as a central mechanism for optimizing our conscious experience of the world in the time dimension.

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