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Exp Brain Res. 2007 Aug;181(3):531-6. Epub 2007 Jun 30.

Attentional selection and identification of visual objects are reflected by distinct electrophysiological responses.

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Department of Cognitive Sciences and Education, University of Trento, Trento, Italy.


Lateralised ERP responses were measured over posterior visual brain regions in response to visual search arrays that contained one colour singleton. In the localisation task, responses were determined by the visual hemifield where this singleton was presented. In the discrimination task, they were determined by the singletons' shape. While an N2pc component was elicited in an identical fashion in both tasks, a subsequent sustained contralateral negativity was consistently present at posterior sites in the discrimination task only. This dissociation demonstrates that these two activations reflect distinct visual processing stages. We suggest that while the N2pc reflects the ability of the visual system both to identify and localise a relevant stimulus in the scene, the late sustained activity reflects the subsequent in-depth analysis and identification of these stimuli.

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