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Theta phase locking across the neocortex reflects cortico-hippocampal recursive communication during goal conflict resolution

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EEG theta coherence, EEG theta power and subjective levels of response were examined in a continuous monitoring target detection task where periodic goal conflicts were introduced as 34 participants progressed through a stimulus sequence leading to response. EEG theta coherence revealed increases in phase locking between cortical areas at specific task stages involving goal conflict. Theta power also increased at points of goal conflict. The temporal characteristics of subjective response (measured continuously throughout the task) indicated a delay between participants actually experiencing goal conflict and overt indications of conflict. The starting point for the study was based on a specific aspect of Gray and McNaughton's [Gray, J.A., McNaughton, N., 2000. The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-Hippocampal System, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford] behavioural inhibition system model—namely, septo-hippocampal system involvement in the resolution of goal conflicts. We drew on Gray and McNaughton's [Gray, J.A., McNaughton, N., 2000. The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-Hippocampal system, 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford] suggestion that septo-hippocampal involvement in this process is reflected by EEG theta. While their theory explains many of our findings, we also drew upon Given's [Givens, B., 1996. Stimulus-evoked reseting of the dentate theta rhythm: relation to working memory. Neuroreport 8 (1), 159–163] proposal that the dentate theta rhythm is reset by behaviourally relevant stimuli. We made further proposals based on Makeig et al.'s [Makeig, S., Westerfield, M., Jung, T.-P., Enghoff, S., Townsend, J., Courchesne, E., Sejnowski, T.J., 2002. Dynamic brain sources of visual evoked responses. Science 295, 690–694] view that specific stimulus events invoke concurrent phase resetting and transient frequency domain coherence across different areas of neocortex. Relations with Go/NoGo event related potentials (P300 and N2; e.g., [Bokura, H., Yamaguchi, S., Kobayashi, S., 2001. Electrophysiological correlates of response inhibition in a Go/NoGo task. Clin. Neurophysiol. 112 (12), 2224–2232]) were also discussed, as well as parallels between our data and interpretation, and other theoretical models of theta (e.g., [Kahana, M.J., Selig, D., Madsen, J.R., 2001. Theta returns. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 11, 739–744]). Suggestions for further research were made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-273
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

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