Temporal orienting of attention is interfered by concurrent working memory updating

Mariagrazia Capizzi, Angel Correa, Daniel Sanabria
Neuropsychologia 2013, 51 (2): 326-39
A previous dual-task study (Capizzi, Sanabria, & Correa, 2012) showed that temporal orienting of attention was disrupted by performing a concurrent working memory task, while sequential effects were preserved. Here, we recorded event related potentials (ERPs) during single- and dual-task performance to investigate how this behavioural dissociation would be expressed in neural activity measures. The single-task condition required participants to respond to a visual target stimulus that could be anticipated on the basis of a highly predictive temporal cue. The dual-task condition introduced a concurrent working memory task, in which colour information had to be updated on every trial. The behavioural results replicated our previous findings of impaired temporal orienting, but preserved sequential effects, under dual-task relative to single-task conditions. The ERPs results showed that temporal orienting and sequential effects both modulated the cue-locked preparatory contingent negative variation (CNV) and the target-locked N2 amplitude and P3 latency under single-task, but not under dual-task conditions. In contrast to temporal orienting, sequential effects were also observed at the early target-locked P1 and N1 potentials. Crucially, only the P1 modulation survived dual-task interference. These findings provide novel electrophysiological evidence that performance of a concurrent working memory task may interfere in a selective way with neural activity specifically linked to temporal orienting of attention.

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