Tagged: attention

Post-stimulus endogenous and exogenous oscillations are differentially modulated by task difficulty.

We investigate the modulation of post-stimulus endogenous and exogenous oscillations when a visual discrimination is made more difficult. We use exogenous frequency tagging to induce steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP) while subjects perform a face-car discrimination task, the difficulty of which varies on a trial-to-trial basis by varying the noise (phase coherence) in the image. We simultaneously analyze amplitude modulations of the SSVEP and endogenous alpha activity as a function of task difficulty. SSVEP modulation can be viewed as a neural marker of attention toward/away from the primary task, while modulation of post-stimulus alpha is closely related to cortical information processing. We find that as the task becomes more difficult, the amplitude of SSVEP decreases significantly, approximately 250-450 ms post-stimulus. Significant changes in endogenous alpha amplitude follow SSVEP modulation, occurring at approximately 400-700 ms post-stimulus and, unlike the SSVEP, the alpha amplitude is increasingly suppressed as the task becomes less difficult. Our results demonstrate simultaneous measurement of endogenous and exogenous oscillations that are modulated by task difficulty, and that the specific timing of these modulations likely reflects underlying information processing flow during perceptual decision-making.

Components of ongoing EEG with high correlation point to emotionally-laden attention — a possible marker of engagement?

Recent evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging suggests that cortical hemo- dynamic responses coincide in different subjects experiencing a common naturalistic stimulus. Here we utilize neural responses in the electroencephalogram (EEG) evoked by multiple presentations of short film clips to index brain states marked by high levels of corre- lation within and across subjects.We formulate a novel signal decomposition method which extracts maximally correlated signal components from multiple EEG records.The resulting components capture correlations down to a one-second time resolution, thus revealing that peak correlations of neural activity across viewings can occur in remarkable corre- spondence with arousing moments of the film. Moreover, a significant reduction in neural correlation occurs upon a second viewing of the film or when the narrative is disrupted by presenting its scenes scrambled in time. We also probe oscillatory brain activity during periods of heightened correlation, and observe during such times a significant increase in the theta band for a frontal component and reductions in the alpha and beta frequency bands for parietal and occipital components. Low-resolution EEG tomography of these components suggests that the correlated neural activity is consistent with sources in the cingulate and orbitofrontal cortices. Put together, these results suggest that the observed synchrony reflects attention- and emotion-modulated cortical processing which may be decoded with high temporal resolution by extracting maximally correlated components of neural activity.