Professor Ole Jensen
School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

Title:  "Three misconceptions about the human alpha rhythm: the inhibition hypothesis revised”


While the human alpha rhythm in the past was associated with rest or idling, it is now clear that the it plays an important role for routing of information by inhibiting specific brain regions depending on task. Several hypotheses have been put forward on the mechanistic role of alpha rhythm; some of which now have proven wrong. Informed by recent MEG findings, the aim of this talk is to rule out some common misconceptions: 
Misconception 1: “Alpha oscillations reflect the suppression of anticipated distractors in attention tasks.” This notion has been difficult to demonstrate in general – rather, we have established that distractor suppression by alpha oscillations is an indirect consequence of perceptual load demands.
Misconception 2: “Alpha oscillation exercises gain control in sensory regions”. Using rapid frequency tagging, we have demonstrated that neuronal excitability and alpha oscillations do not correlate as one would expect from a gain control mechanism. Rather, alpha oscillations seem to reflect gating in down-stream regions.
Misconception 3: “Due to ‘alpha blocking’ in response to visual input, alpha oscillations are not relevant during visual exploration.” We have shown that while alpha power is reduced during visual search, it still remains strong. Also, we have shown that the phase of the alpha oscillations coordinates saccades during visual exploration and reading which would benefit the timing of visual processing.
Based on these notions a revised framework will be presented for the functional role of alpha band oscillations.


About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

While seminars in the QBI Auditorium have been suspended due to COVID-19, we will still be holding seminars via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018