Modulations of sensory-evoked brain potentials indicate changes in perceptual processing during visual-spatial priming

G R Mangun and S A Hillyard (1991). J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform, 17(4):1057-74.

Reaction time (RT) differences to visual stimuli as a function of expectancy have been attributed to changes in perceptual processing or entirely to shifts in decision and response criteria. To help distinguish between these competing interpretations, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded to lateralized flashes delivered to visual field locations precued by a central arrow (valid stimuli) or not precued (invalid stimuli). Validly cued stimuli in both simple and choice RT tasks elicited consistent amplitude enhancements of the early, sensory-evoked PI component of the ERP recorded at scalp sites overlying lateral prestriate visual cortex (90-130 ms poststimulus). In contrast, the subsequent N1 component (150-200 ms) was enhanced by validly cued stimuli in thechoice RT task condition only. These electrophysiological findings support models proposing that the behavioral effects of precuing expected target locations are due, at least in part, to changes in sensory-perceptual processing. Furthermore,these data provide specific information regarding the neural mechanisms underlying such effects.

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