Dissociable Roles of Theta and Alpha in Sub-Second and Supra-Second Time Reproduction: An Investigation of their Links to Depression and Anxiety
A growing collection of observations has demonstrated the presence of multiple neural oscillations participating in human temporal cognition and psychiatric pathologies such as depression and anxiety. However, there remains a gap in the literature regarding the specific roles of these neural oscillations during interval timing, and how these oscillatory activities might vary with the different levels of mental health. The current study examined the participation of the frontal midline theta and occipital alpha oscillations, both of which are prevalent cortical oscillatory markers frequently reported in working memory and time perception paradigms. Participants performed a time reproduction task in the sub- (400, 600, 800 ms) and supra-second timescales (1600, 1800, 2000 ms) while undergoing scalp EEG recordings. Anxiety and depression levels were measured via self-report mental health inventories. Time–frequency analysis of scalp EEG revealed that both frontal midline and occipital alpha oscillations were engaged during the encoding of the durations. Furthermore, we observed that the correlational relationship between frontal midline theta power and the reproduction performance in the sub-second range was modulated by state anxiety. In contrast, the correlational relationship between occipital alpha and the reproduction performance of supra-second intervals was modulated by depression and trait anxiety. The results offer insights on how alpha and theta oscillations differentially play a role in interval timing and how mental health further differentially relates these neural oscillations to sub- and supra-second timescales.