Long-range temporal correlations in alpha oscillations stabilize perception of ambiguous visual stimuli

Francesca Sangiuliano Intra, Arthur Ervin Avramiea, Mona Irrmischer, Simon Shlomo Poil, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ongoing brain dynamics have been proposed as a type of “neuronal noise” that can trigger perceptual switches when viewing an ambiguous, bistable stimulus. However, no prior study has directly quantified how such neuronal noise relates to the rate of percept reversals. Specifically, it has remained unknown whether individual differences in complexity of resting-state oscillations-as reflected in long-range temporal correlations (LRTC)-are associated with perceptual stability. We hypothesized that participants with stronger resting-state LRTC in the alpha band experience more stable percepts, and thereby fewer perceptual switches. Furthermore, we expected that participants who report less discontinuous thoughts during rest, experience less switches. To test this, we recorded electroencephalography (EEG) in 65 healthy volunteers during 5 min Eyes-Closed Rest (ECR), after which they filled in the Amsterdam Resting- State Questionnaire (ARSQ). This was followed by three conditions where participants attended an ambiguous structure-from-motion stimulus-Neutral (passively observe the stimulus), Hold (the percept for as long as possible), and Switch (as often as possible). LRTC of resting-state alpha oscillations predicted the number of switches only in the Hold condition, with stronger LRTC associated with less switches. Contrary to our expectations, there was no association between resting-state Discontinuity of Mind and percept stability. Participants were capable of controlling switching according to task goals, and this was accompanied by increased alpha power during Hold and decreased power during Switch. Fewer switches were associated with stronger task-related alpha LRTC in all conditions. Together, our data suggest that bistable visual perception is to some extent under voluntary control and influenced by LRTC of alpha oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberApril
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2018


This study was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, NWO/MaGW 406-12-160 and NWO/MaGW 406-15-256) and by PhD fellowship from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy.

FundersFunder number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek406-12-160, NWO/MaGW 406-15-256


    • Bistable perception
    • Resting-state EEG
    • Resting-state questionnaire
    • Spontaneous brain fluctuations
    • Voluntary control


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