Rasmus Eklund Foto: Psykologiska institutionen/HB

Rasmus Eklund

Researcher, Ph D

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Works at Department of Psychology
Telephone 08-16 46 07
Visiting address Frescati hagväg 9A
Room 212
Postal address Psykologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Rasmus Eklund (et al.).

    How does the brain enable us to experience seeing or hearing a stimulus? If a stimulus is repeatedly presented at the awareness threshold, subjects will report that they are aware of the stimulus on half of the presentations. Electroencephalography (EEG) can be used to non-invasively record neural activity as event-related potentials (ERPs). The contrastive analysis of neural activity to trials rated as aware minus neural activity to trials rated as unaware reveals the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC). Research on the NCC in vision has resulted in two ERPs: an early negative difference wave (visual awareness negativity, VAN) and a subsequent late positivity (LP). Visual awareness may be reflected by one or both of these ERPs. However, the contrastive analysis (aware minus unaware) may not isolate the NCC because it arguably compares aware processing with a combination of unaware processing and no processing. In support, previous research that tried to isolate a comparison between aware processing and unaware processing found that LP was the only NCC. However, subsequent replications suggested VAN and LP as NCC. Because of these mixed results, we followed up on these studies in Study I with a preregistered design that manipulated stimulus size. Results showed VAN and LP as NCC. The findings provide evidence for VAN as an early NCC.

    Another main goal of this thesis was to investigate auditory awareness. In Study II, an auditory threshold task was used, and the contrastive analysis revealed an early negative difference wave (auditory awareness negativity, AAN) and LP. These ERPs are comparable to VAN and LP in vision. Because post-perceptual processes related to responding may confound the NCC in contrastive analysis, no-response tasks can be used to isolate awareness-related activity. In vision, a previous study in which the manual response requirement was manipulated showed effects on LP but not on VAN. In Study III, we used a similar task with auditory stimuli at the awareness threshold. Results suggested that AAN and LP are unaffected by the response manipulation. However, the present no-response task may not be optimal for removing post-perceptual processing because subjects need to reflect on their experience even if they do not need to respond manually. Additional analyses that attempted source localization of the AAN suggested that it is generated in auditory cortex.

    From a theoretical perspective, one view of these results is that VAN and AAN reflect local recurrent processing and that this is the neural signature of awareness, whereas LP reflects global recurrent processing that enables reporting. Other views suggest that VAN and AAN merely reflect preconscious processes, whereas LP and global recurrent processing reflect consciousness. The studies described in this thesis do not support one theory over the other but provide robust evidence for early neural correlates of visual and auditory awareness.

  • 2019. Rasmus Eklund, Billy Gerdfeldter, Stefan Wiens. Frontiers in Psychology 10

    In hearing, two neural correlates of awareness are the auditory awareness negativity (AAN) and the late positivity (LP). These correlates of auditory awareness are typically observed with tasks in which subjects are required to report their awareness with manual responses. Thus, the correlates may be confounded by this manual response requirement. We manipulated the response requirement in a tone detection task (N = 52). Tones were presented at each subject’s individual awareness threshold while high-density electroencephalography (EEG) activity was recorded. In one response condition, subjects pushed a button if they were aware of the tone and withheld responding if they were unaware of the tone. In the other condition, subjects pushed a button if they were unaware of the tone and withheld responding if they were aware of the tone. To capture AAN and LP, difference waves were computed between aware and unaware trials, separately for trials in which responses were required and trials in which responses were not required. Results suggest that AAN and LP are unaffected by the response requirement. These findings imply that in hearing, early and late correlates of awareness are not confounded by a manual response requirement. Furthermore, the results suggest that AAN originates from bilateral auditory cortices, supporting the view that AAN is a neural correlate of localized recurrent processing in early sensory areas.

  • 2019. Rasmus Eklund, Stefan Wiens. Consciousness and Cognition 71, 70-78

    One theory of visual awareness proposes that electrophysiological activity related to awareness occurs in primary visual areas approximately 200 ms after stimulus onset (visual awareness negativity: VAN) and in fronto-parietal areas about 300 ms after stimulus onset (late positivity: LP). Although similar processes might be involved in auditory awareness, only sparse evidence exists for this idea. In the present study, we recorded electrophysiological activity while subjects listened to tones that were presented at their own awareness threshold. The difference in electrophysiological activity elicited by tones that subjects reported being aware of versus unaware of showed an early negativity about 200 ms and a late positivity about 300 ms after stimulus onset. These results closely match those found in vision and provide convincing evidence for an early negativity (auditory awareness negativity: AAN), as well as an LP. These findings suggest that theories of visual awareness are also applicable to auditory awareness.

  • 2018. Rasmus Eklund, Stefan Wiens. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 18 (1), 176-188

    Electrophysiological recordings are commonly used to study the neural correlates of consciousness in humans. Previous research is inconsistent as to whether awareness can be indexed with visual awareness negativity (VAN) at about 200 ms or if it occurs later. The present study was preregistered with two main aims: First, to provide independent evidence for or against the presence of VAN, and second, to study whether stimulus size may account for the inconsistent findings. Subjects were shown low-contrast Gaussian filtered gratings (Gabor patches) in the four visual quadrants. Gabor size (large and small) was varied in different sessions and calibrated to each subject’s threshold of visual awareness. Event-related potentials were derived from trials in which subjects localized the Gabors correctly to capture the difference between trials in which they reported awareness versus no awareness. Bayesian analyses revealed very strong evidence for the presence of VAN for both Gabor sizes. However, there was no evidence for or against an effect of stimulus size. The present findings provide evidence for VAN as an early neural correlate of awareness.

  • 2019. Stefan Wiens (et al.). Psychophysiology 56 (1)

    The mismatch negativity (MMN) has been widely studied with oddball tasks to index processing of unexpected auditory change. The MMN is computed as the difference of deviant minus standard and is used to capture the pattern violation by the deviant. However, this oddball MMN is confounded because the deviant differs physically from the standard and is presented less often. To improve measurement, the same tone as the deviant is presented in a separate condition. This control tone is equiprobable with other tones and is used to compute a corrected MMN (deviant minus control). Typically, the tones are in random order except that consecutive tones are not identical (no-repetition rule). In contrast, a recent study on frequency MMN presented tones in a regular up-and-down sequence (cascade rule). If the cascade rule is detected more easily than the no-repetition rule, there should be a lower risk of a confounding MMN within the cascade condition. However, in previous research, the cascade and no-repetition conditions differed not only in the regularity of the tone sequence but also in number of tones, frequency range, and proportion of tones. We controlled for these differences to isolate effects of regularity in the tone sequence. Results of our preregistered analyses provided moderate evidence (BF01>6) that the corrected MMN did not differ between cascade and no-repetition conditions. These findings imply that no-repetition and cascade rules are processed similarly and that the no-repetition condition provides an adequate control in frequency MMN.

  • 2019. Stefan Wiens (et al.). Frontiers in Psychology 10

    The mismatch negativity (MMN) has been of particular interest in auditory perception because of its sensitivity to auditory change. It is typically measured in an oddball task and is computed as the difference of deviant minus standard tones. Previous studies suggest that the oddball MMN can be reduced by crossmodal attention to a concurrent, difficult visual task. However, more recent studies did not replicate this effect. Because previous findings seem to be biased, we preregistered the present study and used Bayesian hypothesis testing to measure the strength of evidence for or against an effect of visual task difficulty. We manipulated visual perceptual load (high and low load). In the task, the visual stimuli were identical for both loads to avoid confounding effects from physical differences of the visual stimuli. We also measured the corrected MMN because the oddball MMN may be confounded by physical differences between deviant and standard tones. The corrected MMN is obtained with a separate control condition in which the same tone as the deviant (critical tone) is equiprobable with other tones. The corrected MMN is computed as deviant minus critical tones. Furthermore, we assessed working memory capacity to examine its moderating role. In our large sample (N = 49), the evidential strength in support of no effect of visual load was moderate for the oddball MMN (9.09 > BF01 > 3.57) and anecdotal to moderate for the corrected MMN (4.55 > BF01 > 2.17). Also, working memory capacity did not correlate with the visual load effect on the oddball MMN and the corrected MMN. The present findings support the robustness of the auditory frequency MMN to manipulations of crossmodal, visual attention and suggest that this relationship is not moderated by working memory capacity.

  • 2017. Stefan Wiens (et al.). Data in Brief 11, 159-164

    The data presented in this article are related to our research article entitled “Effects of sound pressure level and visual perceptual load on the auditory mismatch negativity” (M. Szychowska, R. Eklund, M.E. Nilsson, S. Wiens, 2016) [1]. The duration MMN was recorded at three sound pressure levels (SPLs) during two levels of visual perceptual load. In an oddball paradigm (standard=75 ms, deviant=30 ms, within-subjects design), participants were presented with tones at 56, 66, or 76 dB SPL (between-subjects design). At the same time, participants focused on a letter-detection task (find X in a circle of six letters). In separate blocks, perceptual load was either low (the six letters were the same) or high (the six letters differed). In the first data collection, tones had only 76 dB SPL [2]. In a follow-up data collection with exactly the same procedure, tones had 56 and 66 dB SPL [1]. Here, we report the procedure, the recording of electroencephalography (EEG) and its preprocessing in terms of event-related potentials (ERPs), the preprocessing of behavioral data, as well as the grand mean ERPs in figures. For each participant, the reported ERP data include mean amplitudes for standards, deviants, and the difference wave (MMN) at Fz (with tip of nose as a reference), separately for the combinations of SPL and load. Reported behavioral data include the signal-detection measure d’ as an index of detection performance.

  • 2017. Malina Szychowska (et al.). Neuroscience Letters 640, 37-41

    Auditory change detection has been studied extensively with mismatch negativity (MMN), an event-related potential. Because it is unresolved if the duration MMN depends on sound pressure level (SPL), we studied effects of different SPLs (56, 66, and 76 dB) on the duration MMN. Further, previous research suggests that the MMN is reduced by a concurrent visual task. Because a recent behavioral study found that high visual perceptual load strongly reduced detection sensitivity to irrelevant sounds, we studied if the duration MMN is reduced by load, and if this reduction is stronger at low SPLs. Although a duration MMN was observed for all SPLs, the MMN was apparently not moderated strongly by SPL, perceptual load, or their interaction, because all 95% CIs overlapped zero. In a contrast analysis of the MMN (across loads) between the 56-dB and 76-dB groups, evidence (BF = 0.31) favored the null hypothesis that duration MMN is unaffected by a 20-dB increase in SPL. Similarly, evidence (BF = 0.19) favored the null hypothesis that effects of perceptual load on the duration MMN do not change with a 20-dB increase in SPL. However, evidence (BF = 3.12) favored the alternative hypothesis that the effect of perceptual load in the present study resembled the overall effect in a recent meta-analysis. When the present findings were combined with the meta-analysis, the effect of load (low minus high) was −0.43 μV, 95% CI [−0.64, −0.22] suggesting that the duration MMN decreases with load. These findings provide support for a sensitive monitoring system of the auditory environment.

Show all publications by Rasmus Eklund at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 9, 2020

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