Modulation in cortical excitability disrupts information transfer in perceptual-level stimulus processing.

Ladan Moheimanian, Sivylla E. Paraskevopoulou, Markus Adamek, Gerwin Schalk, Peter Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite significant interest in the neural underpinnings of behavioral variability, little light has been shed on the cortical mechanism underlying the failure to respond to perceptual-level stimuli. We hypothesized that cortical activity resulting from perceptual-level stimuli is sensitive to the moment-to-moment fluctuations in cortical excitability, and thus may not suffice to produce a behavioral response. We tested this hypothesis using electrocorticographic recordings to follow the propagation of cortical activity in six human subjects that responded to perceptual-level auditory stimuli. Here we show that for presentations that did not result in a behavioral response, the likelihood of cortical activity decreased from auditory cortex to motor cortex, and was related to reduced local cortical excitability. Cortical excitability was quantified using instantaneous voltage during a short window prior to cortical activity onset. Therefore, when humans are presented with an auditory stimulus close to perceptual-level threshold, moment-by-moment fluctuations in cortical excitability determine whether cortical responses to sensory stimulation successfully connect auditory input to a resultant behavioral response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118498
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Alpha oscillations
  • Broadband gamma activity
  • Electrocorticography (ECoG)
  • Instantaneous voltage
  • Perception threshold
  • Stimulus detection


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