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Psychophysiology. 2007 Mar;44(2):277-92.

Brain electrical correlates of dimensional weighting: an ERP study.

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Department Psychologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany.


In visual search, there is a reaction time (RT) cost for targets on a given trial if the previous target was defined in a different dimension. According to the "dimension-weighting" account (Müller, Heller, & Ziegler, 1995), limited attentional weight needs to be shifted to the new dimension, resulting in slower RTs. The present study aimed at identifying brain electrical correlates associated with the weight shift. Analyses of ERPs revealed several components to reflect dimension changes whether the task was to detect the target or to identify its defining dimension. N2 amplitudes were more negative whenever the dimension changed. The P3 exhibited latency differences that mirrored RTs in both tasks, but the amplitudes showed no direct relation to stimulus- or response-related processes. Finally, slow-wave amplitudes were enhanced for dimension changes. Taken together, the results provide support for relatively early, perceptual processes underlying dimension change costs.

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