Amplitude modulating frequency overrides carrier frequency in tACS-induced phosphene percept

Che Yi Hsu, Tzu Ling Liu, Dong Han Lee, Ding Ruey Yeh, Yan Hsun Chen, Wei Kuang Liang, Chi Hung Juan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The amplitude modulated (AM) neural oscillation is an essential feature of neural dynamics to coordinate distant brain areas. The AM transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) has recently been adopted to examine various cognitive functions, but its neural mechanism remains unclear. The current study utilized the phosphene phenomenon to investigate whether, in an AM-tACS, the AM frequency could modulate or even override the carrier frequency in phosphene percept. We measured the phosphene threshold and the perceived flash rate/pattern from 12 human subjects (four females, aged from 20–44 years old) under tACS that paired carrier waves (10, 14, 18, 22 Hz) with different envelope conditions (0, 2, 4 Hz) over the mid-occipital and left facial areas. We also examined the phosphene source by adopting a high-density stimulation montage. Our results revealed that (1) phosphene threshold was higher for AM-tACS than sinusoidal tACS and demonstrated different carrier frequency functions in two stimulation montages. (2) AM-tACS slowed down the phosphene flashing and abolished the relation between the carrier frequency and flash percept in sinusoidal tACS. This effect was independent of the intensity change of the stimulation. (3) Left facial stimulation elicited phosphene in the upper-left visual field, while occipital stimulation elicited equally distributed phosphene. (4) The near-eye electrodermal activity (EDA) measured under the threshold-level occipital tACS was greater than the lowest power sufficient to elicit retinal phosphene. Our results show that AM frequency may override the carrier frequency and determine the perceived flashing frequency of AM-tACS-induced phosphene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)914-926
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2023


  • Holo-Hilbert spectral analysis (HHSA)
  • amplitude-modulated (AM) stimulation
  • phosphene
  • transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS)
  • visual awareness


Dive into the research topics of 'Amplitude modulating frequency overrides carrier frequency in tACS-induced phosphene percept'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this