Dynamic phase alignment of ongoing auditory cortex oscillations

Anna-Katharina R Bauer, Martin G Bleichner, Manuela Jaeger, Jeremy D Thorne, Stefan Debener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neural oscillations can synchronize to external rhythmic stimuli, as for example in speech and music. While previous studies have mainly focused on elucidating the fundamental concept of neural entrainment, less is known about the time course of entrainment. In this human electroencephalography (EEG) study, we unravel the temporal evolution of neural entrainment by contrasting short and long periods of rhythmic stimulation. Listeners had to detect short silent gaps that were systematically distributed with respect to the phase of a 3 Hz frequency-modulated tone. We found that gap detection performance was modulated by the stimulus stream with a consistent stimulus phase across participants for short and long stimulation. Electrophysiological analysis confirmed neural entrainment effects at 3 Hz and the 6 Hz harmonic for both short and long stimulation lengths. 3 Hz source level analysis revealed that longer stimulation resulted in a phase shift of a participant's neural phase relative to the stimulus phase. Phase coupling increased over the first second of stimulation, but no effects for phase coupling strength were observed over time. The dynamic evolution of phase alignment suggests that the brain attunes to external rhythmic stimulation by adapting the brain's internal representation of incoming environmental stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-407
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018


  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex/physiology
  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Brain Waves/physiology
  • Electroencephalography Phase Synchronization/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

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