Gamma flicker triggers attentional selection without awareness.
Bauer F., Cheadle SW., Parton A., Müller HJ., Usher M.
Gamma band modulations in neural activity have been proposed to mediate attentional processes. To support a causal link between gamma activity and attentional selection, we attempt to evoke gamma oscillations by a 50-Hz subliminal flicker. We find that a subliminal 50-Hz flicker at a target location, before target presentation, speeds up and enhances target detection and discrimination. This effect is specific to the middle of the gamma range because it is not evident at <35-Hz flicker. It requires 300 ms to build up, dissipates within 250 ms of flicker offset, and shows a tendency to invert after 500 ms. The results are discussed in relation to a role for gamma band neural synchrony in the allocation of visual attention.