ERP correlates of anticipatory attention: Spatial and non-spatial specificity and relation to subsequent selective attention

Corby L. Dale, Gregory V. Simpson, John J. Foxe, Tracy L. Luks, Michael S. Worden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Brain-based models of visual attention hypothesize that attention-related benefits afforded to imperative stimuli occur via enhancement of neural activity associated with relevant spatial and non-spatial features. When relevant information is available in advance of a stimulus, anticipatory deployment processes are likely to facilitate allocation of attention to stimulus properties prior to its arrival. The current study recorded EEG from humans during a centrally-cued covert attention task. Cues indicated relevance of left or right visual field locations for an upcoming motion or orientation discrimination. During a 1 s delay between cue and S2, multiple attention-related events occurred at frontal, parietal and occipital electrode sites. Differences in anticipatory activity associated with the non-spatial task properties were found late in the delay, while spatially-specific modulation of activity occurred during both early and late periods and continued during S2 processing. The magnitude of anticipatory activity preceding the S2 at frontal scalp sites (and not occipital) was predictive of the magnitude of subsequent selective attention effects on the S2 event-related potentials observed at occipital electrodes. Results support the existence of multiple anticipatory attention-related processes, some with differing specificity for spatial and non-spatial task properties, and the hypothesis that levels of activity in anterior areas are important for effective control of subsequent S2 selective attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Human
  • Top-down control
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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