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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 May;16(3):309-22.

Attention and movement-related motor cortex activation: a high-density EEG study of spatial stimulus-response compatibility.

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Behavioral Brain Sciences Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


Visual spatial attentional activation of motor areas has been documented in single cell neurophysiology and functional imaging studies of the brain. Here, we investigate a candidate event-related brain potential representing visuospatial attentional activity in motor areas of the cortex. The investigation aimed to elucidate the neural origin and the functional characteristics of this brain potential, which has been labelled N2cc and is typically observed in spatial stimulus-response compatibility tasks. High-density EEG was recorded in 10 subjects while they performed a Simon-type spatial stimulus-response compatibility task and a control task where the same stimuli were assigned to Go-Nogo response alternatives. The N2cc showed a time course parallel to the posteriorly distributed N2pc, associated with visuospatial selection. Scalp distribution and current source density reconstructions allowed a spatial separation of N2pc and centrally distributed N2cc and were compatible with a source for the N2cc in the lateral premotor cortex. Comparisons across tasks demonstrated that the N2cc depends on bilateral response readiness, ruling out an exclusively attentional interpretation. Instead, the activity appears associated with visuospatial attentional processes that serve the selection and suppression of competing responses, in accord with a function of the dorsal premotor cortex in response selection. Together, the results consolidate the N2cc as a new ERP component relevant to the investigation of visuospatial motor processes.

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