Attentional load asymmetrically affects early electrophysiological indices of visual orienting

Redmond G O'Connell, Dana Schneider, Robert Hester, Jason B Mattingley, Mark Andrew Bellgrove

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25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent behavioral studies suggest that asymmetries in visuospatial orienting are modulated by changes in the demand on nonspatial components of attention, but the brain correlates of this modulation are unknown. We used scalp-recorded event-related potentials to examine the influence of central attentional load on neural responses to lateralized visual targets. Forty-five participants were required to detect transient, unilateral visual targets while monitoring a stream of alphanumeric stimuli at fixation, in which the target was defined either by a unique feature (low load) or by a conjunction of features (high load). The earliest effect of load on spatial orienting was seen at the latency of the posterior N1 (190-240 ms). The commonly observed N1 enhancement with contralateral visual stimulation was attenuated over the right hemisphere under high load. Source analysis localized this effect to occipital and inferior parietal regions of the right hemisphere. In addition, we observed perceptual enhancement with increasing load within the focus of attention (fixation) at an earlier stage (P1, 90-140 ms) than has previously been reported. These data support the view that spatial asymmetries in visual orienting are modulated by nonspatial attention due to overlapping neural circuits within the right hemisphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1056 - 1065
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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