Retinotopically specific increases in alpha-band (∼10 Hz) oscillatory power have been strongly implicated in the suppression of processing for irrelevant parts of the visual field during the deployment of visuospatial attention. Here, we asked whether this alpha suppression mechanism also plays a role in the nonspatial anticipatory biasing of feature-based attention. Visual word cues informed subjects what the task-relevant feature of an upcoming visual stimulus (S2) was, while high-density electroencephalographic recordings were acquired. We examined anticipatory oscillatory activity in the Cue-to-S2 interval (∼2 s). Subjects were cued on a trial-by-trial basis to attend to either the color or direction of motion of an upcoming dot field array, and to respond when they detected that a subset of the dots differed from the majority along the target feature dimension.Weused the features of color and motion, expressly because they have well known, spatially separated cortical processing areas, to distinguish shifts in alpha power over areas processing each feature. Alpha power from dorsal regions increased when motion was the irrelevant feature (i.e., color was cued), and alpha power from ventral regions increased when color was irrelevant. Thus, alpha-suppression mechanisms appear to operate during feature-based selection in much the same manner as has been shown for space-based attention.
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