Cortical volume and sex influence visual gamma

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Visually induced gamma–band activity (GBA) has been implicated in several central cognitive functions, in particular perceptual binding, the feedforward routing of attended stimulus information and memory encoding. Several studies have documented that the strength and frequency of GBA are influenced by both subject–intrinsic factors like age, and subject–extrinsic factors such as stimulus contrast. Here, we investigated the relative contributions of previously tested factors, additional factors, and their interactions, in a cohort of 158 subjects recorded with magnetoencephalography (MEG). In agreement with previous studies, we found that gamma strength and gamma peak frequency increase with stimulus contrast and stimulus velocity. Also in confirmation of previous findings, we report that gamma peak frequency declines with subject age. In addition, we found that gamma peak frequency is higher for subjects with thicker occipital cortex, but lower for larger occipital cortices. Also, gamma peak frequency is higher in female than male subjects. Extrinsic factors (stimulus contrast and velocity) and intrinsic factors (age, cortical thickness and sex) together explained 21% of the variance in gamma peak frequency and 20% of the variance in gamma strength. These results can contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms, by which gamma is generated, and the mechanisms, through which it affects the cognitive performance of a given individual subject.

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