Pre-trial exogenous visual flicker does not affect behavioral or EEG signatures of conflict processing

Activity in the theta frequency band (4-8 Hz) over medial prefrontal regions has been consistently implicated in top-down cognitive control processes, including recognizing and resolving response conflict. It remains an unanswered question whether these theta-band dynamics are a neural mechanism of cognitive control, or instead are epiphenomenal to the neural computational machinery but are useful indices of brain function. Here we addressed this question by attempting to boost conflict processing (or its EEG theta-band signatures) via pre-trial exogenous theta-band visual flicker. Although the flicker successfully entrained posterior brain networks, there were no effects of flicker on behavior or on EEG signatures of conflict processing. In this paper, we detail our attempts and discuss possible future directions for using exogenous flicker in the study of the role of endogenous brain oscillations in conflict processing.

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