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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

February 2009, Vol. 21, No. 2, Pages 390-402
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.21020)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Oscillatory Activity and Phase–Amplitude Coupling in the Human Medial Frontal Cortex during Decision Making
Article PDF (1.06 MB)

Electroencephalogram oscillations recorded both within and over the medial frontal cortex have been linked to a range of cognitive functions, including positive and negative feedback processing. Medial frontal oscillatory characteristics during decision making remain largely unknown. Here, we examined oscillatory activity of the human medial frontal cortex recorded while subjects played a competitive decision-making game. Distinct patterns of power and cross-trial phase coherence in multiple frequency bands were observed during different decision-related processes (e.g., feedback anticipation vs. feedback processing). Decision and feedback processing were accompanied by a broadband increase in cross-trial phase coherence at around 220 msec, and dynamic fluctuations in power. Feedback anticipation was accompanied by a shift in the power spectrum from relatively lower (delta and theta) to higher (alpha and beta) power. Power and cross-trial phase coherence were greater following losses compared to wins in theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands, but were greater following wins compared to losses in the delta band. Finally, we found that oscillation power in alpha and beta frequency bands were synchronized with the phase of delta and theta oscillations (“phase–amplitude coupling”). This synchronization differed between losses and wins, suggesting that phase–amplitude coupling might reflect a mechanism of feedback valence coding in the medial frontal cortex. Our findings link medial frontal oscillations to decision making, with relations among activity in different frequency bands suggesting a phase-utilizing coding of feedback valence information.