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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Feb 3;95(3):781-7.

Event-related brain potentials in the study of visual selective attention.

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Department of Neurosciences, 0608, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0608, USA.


Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) provide high-resolution measures of the time course of neuronal activity patterns associated with perceptual and cognitive processes. New techniques for ERP source analysis and comparisons with data from blood-flow neuroimaging studies enable improved localization of cortical activity during visual selective attention. ERP modulations during spatial attention point toward a mechanism of gain control over information flow in extrastriate visual cortical pathways, starting about 80 ms after stimulus onset. Paying attention to nonspatial features such as color, motion, or shape is manifested by qualitatively different ERP patterns in multiple cortical areas that begin with latencies of 100-150 ms. The processing of nonspatial features seems to be contingent upon the prior selection of location, consistent with early selection theories of attention and with the hypothesis that spatial attention is "special."

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