The Dynamics of Attention during Free Looking

Watamura, Sarah Enos; Devine, Katie A.; Robertson, Steven S.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Simple methods to study attention dynamics in challenging research and practical applications are limited. We explored the utility of examining attention dynamics during free looking with steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs), which reflect the effects of attention on early sensory processing. This method can be used with participants who cannot follow verbal instructions and patients without voluntary motor control. In our healthy participants, there were robust fluctuations in the strength of SSVEPs driven by the fixated and non-fixated stimuli (rapidly changing pictures of faces) in the seconds leading up to the moment they chose to shift their gaze to the next stimulus sequence. Furthermore, the amplitude of SSVEPs driven by the fixated stimuli predicted subsequent recognition of individual stimuli. The results illustrate how information about the temporal course of attention during free looking can be obtained with simple methods based on the attentional modulation of SSVEPs.


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