Attentional Gain Is Modulated by Probabilistic Feature Expectations in a Spatial Cueing Task: ERP Evidence


Several theoretical and empirical studies suggest that attention and perceptual expectations influence perception in an interactive manner, whereby attentional gain is enhanced for predicted stimuli. The current study assessed whether attention and perceptual expectations interface when they are fully orthogonal, i.e., each of them relates to different stimulus features. We used a spatial cueing task with block-wise spatial attention cues that directed attention to either left or right visual field, in which Gabor gratings of either predicted (more likely) or unpredicted (less likely) orientation were presented. The lateralised posterior N1pc component was additively influenced by attention and perceptual expectations. Bayesian analysis showed no reliable evidence for the interactive effect of attention and expectations on the N1pc amplitude. However, attention and perceptual expectations interactively influenced the frontally distributed anterior N1 component (N1a). The attention effect (i.e., enhanced N1a amplitude in the attended compared to the unattended condition) was observed only for the gratings of predicted orientation, but not in the unpredicted condition. These findings suggest that attention and perceptual expectations interactively influence visual processing within 200 ms after stimulus onset and such joint influence may lead to enhanced endogenous attentional control in the dorsal fronto-parietal attention network.

Scientific Reports
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