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Daniela Gledhill, Cathleen Grimsen, Manfred Fahle, Detlef Wegener; Human feature-based attention consists of two distinct spatiotemporal processes. Journal of Vision 2015;15(8):8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.8.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In human and nonhuman primates, goal-directed behavior requires the selection of relevant pieces of information from the multitude of simultaneous sensory inputs. Feature-based attention (FBA) plays a crucial role in this selection by improving the neuronal representation of an attended stimulus feature. Of particular interest for understanding the neuronal mechanisms behind FBA is the processing fate of spatially unattended stimuli, either sharing the attended feature attribute or belonging to the attended or to a nonattended feature dimension. Using a wide range of cue/stimulus combinations, we investigated event-related potentials from the human brain, recorded under conditions of different feature attention but constant visual stimulation. We found that neural processing of visual stimuli sharing the dimension or the attribute of the attended target is associated with two distinct spatiotemporal processes, particularly prominent during the selection negativity period. Dimension-based modulation of neural signals first emerged over frontal electrode sites, and temporally preceded and accompanied attribute-specific FBA effects at occipital, parieto-occipital, and parietal electrodes. The findings suggest a process of FBA that not only increases responses of those neurons particularly tuned to the attended attribute but also modulates activity in the cortical module that is selective for the feature dimension to which the attended attribute belongs.
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