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Mary H. MacLean, Karen M. Arnell, Kimberly A. Cote; Resting EEG in alpha and beta bands predicts individual differences in attentional blink magnitude. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):262. doi: 10.1167/12.9.262.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Accuracy for a second target is reduced when it is presented within 500 ms of a first target in a rapid serial visual presentation – an attentional blink (AB). There are reliable individual differences in the magnitude of the deficit observed in the AB. Recent evidence has shown that the attentional mode that an individual typically adopts during a task or in anticipation of a task, as indicated by various measures, predicts individual differences in the AB. It has yet to be observed whether indices of attentional mode when not engaged in a goal-directed task are also relevant to individual differences in the AB. Using an individual differences approach, we investigated the relationship between the AB and attention at rest as assessed with quantitative measures of EEG. Greater levels of alpha at rest, thought to represent an idling or inhibited cortex, were associated with larger AB magnitudes, where greater levels of beta at rest were associated with smaller AB magnitudes. Furthermore, individuals with more alpha than beta at rest demonstrated larger AB magnitudes than individuals with more beta than alpha at rest. This pattern of results was observed in two different studies, with different samples, different AB tasks, and using different procedures and recording systems. Our results suggest that less attentional engagement at rest, when not engaged in a goal-directed task, is associated with larger AB magnitudes. It is possible that high levels of alpha and low levels of beta at rest are representative of an internally oriented mode of attention that impairs perception of externally generated information as is required by the AB task. An alternative hypothesis is that high levels of alpha and low levels of beta at rest are representative of an anticipatory mode of attention that results in detrimental overinvestment in the AB task.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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