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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2004 Aug;20(3):491-509.

Attentional modulation of the human somatosensory evoked potential in a trial-by-trial spatial cueing and sustained spatial attention task measured with high density 128 channels EEG.

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Institut für Allgemeine Psychologie, Universität Leipzig, Seeburgstrasse 14-20, D-04103, Leipzig, Germany.


We investigated the modulation of the somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) elicited by mechanical stimuli in a spatial sustained attention and a spatial trial-by-trial cueing design by means of high density electrode array EEG recordings. Subjects were instructed to detect rare tactile target stimuli at the to-be-attended hand while ignoring stimuli at the other hand. Analysis of the SEP revealed a highly complex pattern of results. The P50 component was significantly increased for attended stimuli in the sustained attention as opposed to the trial-by-trial cueing condition. However, no difference in amplitude was found for attended as opposed to unattended stimuli. High density electrode array recordings revealed a centero-frontal N140 component (N140c), which preceded the parietal N140 (N140p) by about 20 ms. The N140c exhibited an attention effect in particular in the trial-by-trial spatial cueing condition. The N140p was significantly enlarged with attention across both experimental conditions, but a closer inspection demonstrated that this was mainly due to the great attention effect in the trial-by-trial spatial cueing condition. The late positive component (190-380 ms after stimulus onset) exhibited a significant attention effect in both experimental conditions. The present experiment provides evidence that the attentional modulation of the SEP is different when tactile as opposed to electrical stimuli were used and when only somatosensory stimuli are presented with no further sensory stimulation in other modalities. Furthermore, transient as opposed to sustained spatial attention affected various components of the SEP in a different way.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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