Multivariate analysis of EEG activity indexes contingent attentional capture

Jaap Munneke*, Johannes Jacobus Fahrenfort, David Sutterer, Jan Theeuwes, Edward Awh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

An extensive body of work has shown that attentional capture is contingent on the goals of the observer: Capture is strongly reduced or even eliminated when an irrelevant singleton stimulus does not match the target-defining properties (Folk et al., 1992). There has been a long-standing debate on whether attentional capture can be explained by goal-driven and/or stimulus-driven accounts. Here, we shed further light on this matter by using EEG activity (raw EEG and alpha power) to provide a time-resolved index of attentional orienting towards salient stimuli that either matched or did not match target-defining properties. A search display containing the target stimulus was preceded by a spatially uninformative singleton cue that either matched the color of the upcoming target (contingent cues), or that appeared in an irrelevant color (non-contingent cues). Multivariate analysis of raw EEG and alpha power revealed preferential tuning to the location of both contingent and non-contingent cues, with a stronger bias towards contingent than non-contingent cues. The time course of these effects, however, depended on the neural signal. Raw EEG data revealed attentional orienting towards the contingent cue early on in the trial (>156 ms), while alpha power revealed sustained spatial selection in the cued locations at a later moment in the trial (>250 ms). Moreover, while raw EEG showed stronger capture by contingent cues during this early time window, an advantage for contingent cues arose during a later time window in alpha band activity. Thus, our findings suggest that raw EEG activity and alpha-band power tap into distinct neural processes that index separate aspects of covert spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117562
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroImage
Volume226
Early online date12 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Funding

Jaap Munneke: Responsible for all aspects of the presented research: Experimental design, data collection, data analysis and dissemination, Johannes Fahrenfort: Responsible for all aspects of the presented research, with a main focus on the computational data analysis and dissemination. This author contributed equally to the study compared to author 1, David Sutterer: Responsible for experimental design and data collection, Jan Theeuwes: Responsible for experimental design and dissemination, Ed Awh: Responsible for experimental design, data analysis and dissemination, All data have been made publicly available via the Open Science Framework and can be accessed at https://osf.io/g2c5y. The used analysis code can be downloaded at https://github.com/fahrenfort/ADAM.

FundersFunder number
National Institute of Mental HealthR01MH087214

    Keywords

    • Alpha power
    • Attentional capture
    • Backward decoding models
    • Contingent capture
    • EEG
    • Forward encoding models
    • Multivariate EEG analyses
    • Raw EEG

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