Transcranial alternating current stimulation of α but not β frequency sharpens multiple visual functions

Hisato Nakazono, Katsuya Ogata, Akinori Takeda, Emi Yamada, Takahiro Kimura, Shozo Tobimatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) can entrain and enhance cortical oscillatory activity in a frequency-dependent manner. In our previous study (Nakazono et al., 2016), 20 Hz (β) tACS significantly increased excitability of primary motor cortex compared with 10 Hz (α) tACS. α oscillations are a prominent feature of the primary visual cortex (V1) in a resting electroencephalogram. Hence, we investigated whether α and β tACS can differentially influence multiple visual functions. Methods: Firstly, we evaluated the after-effects of α and β tACS on pattern-reversal (PR) and focal-flash (FF) visual evoked potentials (VEPs). Secondly, we determined the relationship between resting α oscillations and PR-VEPs modulated by tACS. Thirdly, the behavioral effects of tACS were assessed by contrast sensitivity. Results: α tACS modulated the amplitudes of PR-VEPs, compared with β tACS, but did not modulate the FF-VEPs. Time-frequency analysis revealed that α tACS facilitated event-related α phase synchronizations without increasing power, which consequently increased the PR-VEP amplitudes. There was a significant positive correlation between PR-VEP amplitudes and resting α oscillations. These findings suggested that α tACS modulated α oscillations, and affected visual functions of contrast and spatial frequency. Indeed, α tACS also improved subjects’ contrast sensitivity at the behavioral level. Conversely, β tACS increased posterior α activity, but did not change VEP amplitudes. Conclusions: α tACS can influence different neuronal populations from those influenced by β tACS. Thus, our results provide evidence that α tACS sharpens multiple visual functions by modulating α oscillations in V1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-352
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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