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Distinct roles of theta and alpha oscillations in the involuntary capture of goal-directed attention

Harris, AM; Dux, PE; Jones, CN; Mattingley, JB; (2017) Distinct roles of theta and alpha oscillations in the involuntary capture of goal-directed attention. NeuroImage , 152 pp. 171-183. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.008. Green open access

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Abstract

Mechanisms of attention assign priority to sensory inputs on the basis of current task goals. Previous studies have shown that lateralized neural oscillations within the alpha (8–14 Hz) range are associated with the voluntary allocation of attention to the contralateral visual field. It is currently unknown, however, whether similar oscillatory signatures instantiate the involuntary capture of spatial attention by goal-relevant stimulus properties. Here we investigated the roles of theta (4–8 Hz), alpha, and beta (14–30 Hz) oscillations in human goal-directed visual attention. Across two experiments, we had participants respond to a brief target of a particular color among heterogeneously colored distractors. Prior to target onset, we cued one location with a lateralized, non-predictive cue that was either target- or non-target-colored. During the behavioral task, we recorded brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG), with the aim of analyzing cue-elicited oscillatory activity. We found that theta oscillations lateralized in response to all cues, and this lateralization was stronger if the cue matched the target color. Alpha oscillations lateralized relatively later, and only in response to target-colored cues, consistent with the capture of spatial attention. Our findings suggest that stimulus induced changes in theta and alpha amplitude reflect task-based modulation of signals by feature-based and spatial attention, respectively.

Type: Article
Title: Distinct roles of theta and alpha oscillations in the involuntary capture of goal-directed attention
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.008
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.008
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Goal-directed attention, Attentional capture, Neural oscillations, Alpha, Theta
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10035580
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