Visual search performance is predicted by both prestimulus and poststimulus electrical brain activity.

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2016-11-30

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Abstract

An individual's performance on cognitive and perceptual tasks varies considerably across time and circumstances. We investigated neural mechanisms underlying such performance variability using regression-based analyses to examine trial-by-trial relationships between response times (RTs) and different facets of electrical brain activity. Thirteen participants trained five days on a color-popout visual-search task, with EEG recorded on days one and five. The task was to find a color-popout target ellipse in a briefly presented array of ellipses and discriminate its orientation. Later within a session, better preparatory attention (reflected by less prestimulus Alpha-band oscillatory activity) and better poststimulus early visual responses (reflected by larger sensory N1 waves) correlated with faster RTs. However, N1 amplitudes decreased by half throughout each session, suggesting adoption of a more efficient search strategy within a session. Additionally, fast RTs were preceded by earlier and larger lateralized N2pc waves, reflecting faster and stronger attentional orienting to the targets. Finally, SPCN waves associated with target-orientation discrimination were smaller for fast RTs in the first but not the fifth session, suggesting optimization with practice. Collectively, these results delineate variations in visual search processes that change over an experimental session, while also pointing to cortical mechanisms underlying performance in visual search.

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10.1038/srep37718

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van den Berg, Berry, Lawrence G Appelbaum, Kait Clark, Monicque M Lorist and Marty G Woldorff (2016). Visual search performance is predicted by both prestimulus and poststimulus electrical brain activity. Sci Rep, 6. p. 37718. 10.1038/srep37718 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13522.

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Woldorff

Marty G. Woldorff

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Woldorff's main research interest is in the cognitive neuroscience of attention. At each and every moment of our lives, we are bombarded by a welter of sensory information coming at us from a myriad of directions and through our various sensory modalities -- much more than we can fully process. We must continuously select and extract the most important information from this welter of sensory inputs. How the human brain accomplishes this is one of the core challenges of modern cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Woldorff uses a combination of electrophysiological (ERP, MEG) and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) methods to study the time course, functional neuroanatomy, and mechanisms of attentional processes. This multimethodological approach is directed along several main lines of research: (1) The influence of attention on sensory and perceptual processing; (2) Cognitive and attentional control mechanisms; (3) The role of attention in multisensory environments; (4) The interactive relationship between attention and reward; and (5) The role of attention in perceptual awareness.


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