A shift of visual spatial attention is selectively associated with human EEG alpha activity

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Dec;22(11):2917-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04482.x.


Event-related potentials and ongoing oscillatory electroencephalogram (EEG) activity were measured while subjects performed a cued visual spatial attention task. They were instructed to shift their attention to either the left or right visual hemifield according to a cue, which could be valid or invalid. Thereafter, a peripheral target had to be evaluated. At posterior parietal brain areas early components of the event-related potential (P1 and N1) were higher when the cue had been valid compared with invalid. An anticipatory attention effect was found in EEG alpha magnitude at parieto-occipital electrode sites. Starting 200 ms before target onset alpha amplitudes were significantly stronger suppressed at sites contralateral to the attended visual hemifield than ipsilateral to it. In addition, phase coupling between prefrontal and posterior parietal electrode sites was calculated. It was found that prefrontal cortex shows stronger phase coupling with posterior sites that are contralateral to the attended hemifield than ipsilateral sites. The results suggest that a shift of attention selectively modulates excitability of the contralateral posterior parietal cortex and that this posterior modulation of alpha activity is controlled by prefrontal regions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology