Coherent EEG indicators of cognitive binding during ambiguous figure tasks

Consciousness and Cognition 9 (1):66-85 (2000)
Abstract
We tested the hypothesis that perception of an alternative image in ambiguous figures would be manifest as high-frequency (gamma) components that become synchronized over multiple scalp sites as a ''cognitive binding'' process occurs. For 171 combinations of data from 19 electrodes, obtained from 17 subjects and 10 replicate stimuli, we calculated the difference in correlation between the response to first seeing an ambiguous figure and when the alternative percept for that figure became consciously realized (cognitively bound). Numerous statistically significant correlation differences occurred in all frequency bands tested with ambiguous-figure stimulation, but not in two kinds of control data (a reaction-time test to sound stimuli and a no-task, mind-wandering test). Statistically significant correlation changes were widespread, involving frontal, parietal, central, and occipital regions of both hemispheres. Correlation changes were evident at each of five frequency bands, ranging up to 62.5 Hz. Most of the statistically significant correlation changes were not between adjacent sites but between sites relatively distant, both ipsilateral and contralateral. Typically, these correlation changes occurred in more than one frequency band. These results suggest that cognitive binding is a distinct mental state that is reliably induced by ambiguous-figure perception tasks. Coherent oscillations at multiple frequencies may reflect the mechanism by which such binding occurs. Moreover, different coherent frequencies may mediate different components of the total cognitive-binding process.
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