Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Steady-state responses (SSRs) reflect the synchronous neural oscillations evoked by noninvasive and consistently repeated stimuli at the fundamental or harmonic frequencies. The steady-state evoked potentials (SSEPs; the representative form of the SSRs) have been widely used in the cognitive and clinical neurosciences and brain–computer interface research. However, the steady-state evoked potentials have limitations in examining high-frequency neural oscillations and basic cognition. In addition, synchronous neural oscillations in the low frequency range (<1 Hz) and in higher-order cognition have received a little attention. Therefore, we examined the SSRs in the low frequency range using a new index, the steady-state BOLD responses (SSBRs) evoked by semantic stimuli. Our results revealed that the significant SSBRs were induced at the fundamental frequency of stimuli and the first harmonic in task-related regions, suggesting the enhanced variability of neural oscillations entrained by exogenous stimuli. The SSBRs were independent of neurovascular coupling and characterized by sensorimotor bias, an indication of regional-dependent neuroplasticity. Furthermore, the amplitude of SSBRs may predict behavioral performance and show the psychophysiological relevance. Our findings provide valuable insights into the understanding of the SSRs evoked by higher-order cognition and how the SSRs modulate low-frequency neural oscillations.