Event Abstract

Using frequency tagging to investigate the neurocorrelates of divided attention

  • 1 BCN-NeuroImaging Center, University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands
  • 2 Experimental and work psychology, University of Groningen, Netherlands

Frequency tagging is an EEG method to investigate the neural mechanisms of spatial attention and the competition for resources of simultaneously displayed stimuli. The method is based on the steady state evoked potentials (SSEPs) elicited from stimuli which flicker with different frequencies. The SSEP response changes according to the attentional condition (attend or ignore one of the stimuli). The attended stimuli elicit larger amplitudes SSEPs than ignored stimuli. In other words, attention modulates the SSEP power, and the changes in SSEP reflect a mechanism of attentional switch to the relevant stimulation. In this experiment, resource competition between simultaneously displayed items was measured comparing a divided versus a focus attention condition. Two squares, at the left and right of fixation, were tagged with different frequencies while participants performed a detection task (respond to the digit 5 embedded in an alphanumeric stream of characters superimposed on each square). At the beginning of the trial a cue indicated which side to attend: left, right, or both. Behavioral results showed that the divided attention condition is more taxing then the focus attention condition. The electrophysiological response to the frequency tagging showed an enhanced SSEP during the focused attention condition and also during the divided attention condition. The dynamics of the enhanced neural processing during divided attention conditions reflect the competition for resources between stimuli. Future research will focus on the temporal and topographical dynamics of the resource competition, and investigate the possible role of frequency tagging in enhancing or reducing task performance.

Conference: 10th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience, Bodrum, Turkey, 1 Sep - 5 Sep, 2008.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Attention

Citation: Toffanin P, Martens S, De Jong R and Johnson A (2008). Using frequency tagging to investigate the neurocorrelates of divided attention. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: 10th International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/conf.neuro.09.2009.01.109

Received: 03 Dec 2008; Published Online: 03 Dec 2008.

* Correspondence: Paolo Toffanin, BCN-NeuroImaging Center, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands, p.toffanin@rug.nl

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