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Directed Cortical Information Flow during Human Object Recognition: Analyzing Induced EEG Gamma-Band Responses in Brain's Source Space

: Supp, G.G.; Schlogl, A.; Trujillo-Barreto, N.; Muller, M.M.; Gruber, T.

Volltext ()

PLoS one. Online journal 2 (2007), Nr.8, Art. e684
ISSN: 1932-6203
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer FIRST ()

The increase of induced gamma-band responses (iGBRs; oscillations >30 Hz) elicited by familiar (meaningful) objects is well established in electroencephalogram (EEG) research. This frequency-specific change at distinct locations is thought to indicate the dynamic formation of local neuronal assemblies during the activation of cortical object representations. As analytically power increase is just a property of a single location, phase-synchrony was introduced to investigate the formation of large-scale networks between spatially distant brain sites. However, classical phase-synchrony reveals symmetric, pair-wise correlations and is not suited to uncover the directionality of interactions. Here, we investigated the neural mechanism of visual object processing by means of directional coupling analysis going beyond recording sites, but rather assessing the directionality of oscillatory interactions between brain areas directly. This study is the first to identify the directionality of oscillatory brain interactions in source space during human object recognition and suggests that familiar, but not unfamiliar, objects engage widespread reciprocal information flow. Directionality of cortical information-flow was calculated based upon an established Granger-Causality coupling-measure (partial-directed coherence; PDC) using autoregressive modeling. To enable comparison with previous coupling studies lacking directional information, phase-locking analysis was applied, using wavelet-based signal decompositions. Both, autoregressive modeling and wavelet analysis, revealed an augmentation of iGBRs during the presentation of familiar objects relative to unfamiliar controls, which was localized to inferior-temporal, superior-parietal and frontal brain areas by means of distributed source reconstruction. The multivariate analysis of PDC evaluated each possible direction of brain interaction and revealed widespread reciprocal information-transfer during familiar object processing. In contrast, unfamiliar objects entailed a sparse number of only unidirectional connections converging to parietal areas. Considering the directionality of brain interactions, the current results might indicate that successful activation of object representations is realized through reciprocal (feed-forward and feed-backward) information-transfer of oscillatory connections between distant, functionally specific brain areas.