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Cross-frequency, phase-to-amplitude coupling (PAC) between neuronal oscillations at rest may serve as the substrate that supports information exchange between functionally specialized neuronal populations both within and between cortical regions. The study utilizes novel algorithms to identify prominent instantaneous modes of cross-frequency coupling and their temporal stability in resting state magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from 25 students experiencing severe reading difficulties (RD) and 27 age-matched non-impaired readers (NI). Phase coherence estimates were computed in order to identify the prominent mode of PAC interaction for each sensor, sensor pair, and pair of frequency bands (from δ to γ) at successive time windows of the continuous MEG record. The degree of variability in the characteristic frequency-pair PACf1−f2 modes over time was also estimated. Results revealed a wider repertoire of prominent PAC interactions in RD as compared to NI students, suggesting an altered functional substrate for information exchange between neuronal assemblies in the former group. Moreover, RD students showed significant variability in PAC modes over time. This temporal instability of PAC values was particularly prominent: (a) within and between right hemisphere temporo-parietal and occipito-temporal sensors and, (b) between left hemisphere frontal, temporal, and occipito-temporal sensors and corresponding right hemisphere sites. Altered modes of neuronal population coupling may help account for extant data revealing reduced, task-related neurophysiological and hemodynamic activation in left hemisphere regions involved in the reading network in RD. Moreover, the spatial distribution of pronounced instability of cross-frequency coupling modes in this group may provide an explanation for previous reports suggesting the presence of inefficient compensatory mechanisms to support reading.


Dimitriadis, S. I., Laskaris, N. A., Simos, P. G., Fletcher, J. M., & Papanicolaou, A. C. (2016). Greater repertoire and temporal variability of cross-frequency coupling (CFC) modes in resting-state neuromagnetic recordings among children with reading difficulties. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00163

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