Indexing the graded allocation of visuospatial attention using anticipatory alpha oscillations
Gould IC., Rushworth MF., Nobre AC.
<jats:p> Lateralization in the desynchronization of anticipatory occipitoparietal alpha (8–12 Hz) oscillations has been implicated in the allocation of selective visuospatial attention. Previous studies have demonstrated that small changes in the lateralization of alpha-band activity are predictive of behavioral performance but have not directly investigated how flexibly alpha lateralization is linked to top-down attentional goals. To address this question, we presented participants with cues providing varying degrees of spatial certainty about the location at which a target would appear. Time-frequency analysis of EEG data demonstrated that manipulating spatial certainty led to graded changes in the extent to which alpha oscillations were lateralized over the occipitoparietal cortex during the cue-target interval. We found that individual differences in alpha desynchronization contralateral to attention predicted reaction times, event-related potential measures of perceptual processing of targets, and beta-band (15–25 Hz) activity typically associated with response preparation. These results support the hypothesis that anticipatory alpha modulation is a plausible neural mechanism underlying the allocation of visuospatial attention and is under flexible top-down control. </jats:p>