Facilitation and inhibition in attention: Functional dissociation of pre-stimulus alpha activity, P1, and N1 components

Heleen A SlagterA Mazaheri


Attention--the ability to attend to some things while ignoring others - can be best described as an emergent property of many neural mechanisms, facilitatory and inhibitory, working together to resolve competition for processing resources and control of behavior. Previous EEG and MEG studies examining the neural mechanisms underlying facilitation and inhibition of stimulus processing typically used paradigms requiring alternating shifts of attention in the spatial domain, with stimuli occurring at both attended and unattended locations. These studies generally observed greater pre-stimulus alpha oscillations over task-irrelevant vs. relevant posterior regions and bilateral attentional modulations of early sensory processing. In contrast, in the current series of experiments, participants continuously attended to only one hemifield and stimuli were only presented at the attended location, affording us an opportunity to elucidate the inhibitory and facilitatory effects of attention in the brain in a context in which spatial relevance was fixed. We found that continuous attention to one hemifield did not modulate prestimulus alpha activity in ipsilateral regions but did result in a perfectly lateralized P1 attention effect to ipsi...Continue Reading


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