Short-term consolidation of visual patterns interferes with visuo-spatial attention: converging evidence from human electrophysiology

Nicolas Robitaille, Pierre Jolicoeur, Roberto Dell'Acqua, Paola Sessa
Brain Research 2007 December 14, 1185: 158-69
In order to investigate the interplay between visuo-spatial attention and central attention, we varied the relative probability (25% vs. 75%) of the responses to lateralized targets in an attentional blink paradigm. When the first target was associated with a less probable response, we observed a larger attentional blink, that is, a general reduction in accuracy for the second target. The efficiency of deployment of spatial attention to the second target was also reduced as a function of the response frequency for the first target. Both the N2pc, an event-related potential (ERP) associated with the deployment of attention in visual space, and the SPCN (sustained posterior contralateral negativity), an ERP associated with the maintenance of information in visual short-term memory, time-locked to T2 were significantly reduced when the first target was associated with a less frequent response. Furthermore, the P3 ERP to T2 was abolished when the response to T1 was rare but not when it was frequent. The results show that the association of T1 to either a rare or frequent response causes significant interference with the deployment of visual spatial attention to T2, and with the short-term consolidation of T2 into visual short-term memory.

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