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Subcortical Regions Influence Alpha Oscillations in Spatial Attention

Core Concepts
Subcortical regions predict alpha-band modulation during spatial attention tasks.
Subcortical structures influence alpha oscillations during spatial attention tasks. Thalamus, caudate nucleus, and globus pallidus predict alpha-band modulations. Different subcortical structures contribute variably under different perceptual load conditions. Structural changes in subcortical regions may reflect neurological disorders. MEG and MRI data were combined to investigate the relationship between subcortical volumes and alpha oscillations. Hemispheric lateralization of thalamus, caudate nucleus, and globus pallidus correlated with alpha power modulation. Thalamus was associated with easier task conditions, while globus pallidus and caudate nucleus were linked to more challenging conditions. The study provides insights into the role of subcortical structures in modulating oscillatory activity during spatial attention tasks. Abstract: Subcortical regions play a role in high-level cognitive functions like spatial attention. Little is known about how subcortical regions contribute to posterior alpha band oscillations under varying cognitive challenges. Introduction: Brain amplifies goal-relevant inputs and suppresses non-relevant inputs through selective attention. Neocortex plays a significant role in spatial attention, but contributions of subcortical regions are less understood. Data Extraction: "Thalamus (mean ± std = -0.0123 ± 0.0121, p-value < 0.000), putamen (mean ± std = -0.0149 ± 0.0285, p-value = 0.004) and nucleus accumbens (mean ± std = -0.1141 ± 0.0746, p-value < 0.000) have significantly negative LV values." "The winning model constituted of thalamus, caudate nucleus and globus pallidus."
Thalamus (mean ± std = -0.0123 ± 0.0121, p-value < 0.000) Putamen (mean ± std = -0.0149 ± 0.0285, p-value = 0.004) Nucleus accumbens (mean ± std = -0.1141 ± 0.0746, p-value < 0.000) The winning model constituted of thalamus, caudate nucleus and globus pallidus.

Deeper Inquiries

How do structural changes in subcortical regions manifest in neurological disorders

Structural changes in subcortical regions can manifest in various ways in neurological disorders. For instance, atrophy or shrinkage of specific subcortical structures like the thalamus, caudate nucleus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens have been linked to conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and Huntington's Disease. In Parkinson's Disease, for example, patients may exhibit smaller volumes of the nucleus accumbens and thalamus which can correlate with cognitive impairments. Similarly, individuals with Alzheimer's Disease often show a significantly smaller amygdala and hippocampus compared to healthy controls. These structural changes are associated with cognitive deficits observed in these disorders.

What implications do these findings have for understanding cognitive control beyond reward associations

The findings regarding the involvement of subcortical structures like the thalamus and basal ganglia in modulating oscillatory brain activity during spatial attention tasks without explicit reward associations have significant implications for understanding cognitive control beyond reward associations. This research sheds light on how these deep brain structures contribute to top-down processes related to attentional resource allocation. By uncovering their role in modulating alpha oscillations under varying conditions of perceptual load and distractor salience, we gain insights into how different aspects of cognition are influenced by subcortical regions. Understanding these mechanisms not only enhances our knowledge of neural circuits involved in attention but also provides a broader perspective on cognitive functions that extend beyond traditional reward-based learning paradigms. It suggests that subcortical structures play a more general role in shaping cognitive processes such as spatial attention modulation irrespective of explicit reward cues. This opens up new avenues for exploring the complexity of cognitive control mechanisms involving both cortical and subcortical regions.

How can future studies directly investigate the relationship between subcortical regions and neocortical oscillations

Future studies aiming to directly investigate the relationship between subcortical regions and neocortical oscillations could benefit from advanced methodologies such as intracranial recordings or combined EEG/MEG recordings with deep-brain stimulation electrodes placed within specific subcortical nuclei like the globus pallidus or thalamus. Conducting experiments that involve simultaneous recording from both cortical areas associated with oscillatory activity (e.g., parieto-occipital sulcus) and deep brain structures would provide more direct evidence of their functional connectivity during tasks requiring spatial attention. Additionally, non-human primate studies or human participants implanted with electrodes could offer valuable insights into real-time interactions between these regions during attention-demanding tasks. By capturing neural activity simultaneously from both cortical areas responsible for alpha band modulation and relevant subcortical nuclei known to be involved in attentional processing pathways (such as prefrontal-basal ganglia-thalamus connections), researchers can elucidate the precise dynamics underlying information flow between these brain regions.