Jun 29, 2016

Preparatory encoding of the fine scale of human spatial attention

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Bradley VoytekAdam Gazzaley


Our attentional focus is constantly shifting: in one moment our vision may be intently concentrated on a specific spot, while in another moment we might spread our attention more broadly. While much is known about the mechanisms by which we shift our visual attention from place to place, relatively little is know about how we shift the aperture of attention from more narrowly- to more broadly-focused. Here we introduce a novel attentional distribution task to examine the neural mechanisms underlying this process. In this task, participants are presented with an informative cue that indicates the location of an upcoming target. This cue can be perfectly predictive of the exact target location, or it can indicate--with varying degrees of certainty--approximately where the target might appear. This cue is followed by a preparatory period in which there is nothing on the screen except a central fixation cross. Using scalp EEG, we examined neural activity during this preparatory period. We find that with decreasing certainty regarding the precise location of the impending target, participant response times increased while target identification accuracy decreased. Additionally, N1 amplitude in response to the cue parametrically incre...Continue Reading

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