Selective attention to spatial frequency: an ERP and source localization analysis

Johanna MP Baas, J L Kenemans, and George R Mangun (2002). Clin Neurophysiol, 113(11):1840-54.

OBJECTIVES: Physiological correlates of visual selective attention have been observed by recording ERPs to attended versus ignored target stimuli. Over many such studies, spatial attention has been observed to modulate early sensory components beginning 70 ms after stimulus onset, while effects of selection based on other stimulus features such as color and spatial frequency occur at longer latencies. Together, these findings argue for a primacy of location in early attentional selection. However, there have been some reports suggesting attention effects on short latency sensory-evoked potentials during selection of spatial frequency. The prime objective of the present study was to assess whether or not spatial frequency-dependent potentials are modulated by attention at a latency as early as 70-100 ms. METHODS: Checkerboard patterns were flashed to the subject, one being the target requiring a response. We investigated attentional effects using high-density scalp mapping and inverse dipole modeling. RESULTS: The earliest robust signs of selective attention to spatial frequencies consisted of an occipital selection negativity (OSN) and a frontal selection positivity (FSP). The OSN started at a latency of 140 ms, the FSP somewhat earlier at 120 ms. These attention effects were readily modeled by sources in cortical areas ventrally and laterally to the more primary areas generating the shorter-latency sensory components. CONCLUSIONS: This pattern of results has been found for non-spatial stimulus features in several studies, and is clearly different from the ERP correlates of spatial selection.

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