Electrophysiological evidence of central interference in the control of visuospatial attention

Psychon Bull Rev. 2007 Feb;14(1):126-32. doi: 10.3758/bf03194039.


Visuospatial attention can be deployed to different locations in space without movement of the eyes. A large body of human electrophysiological studies reveals enhanced sensory-perceptual responses to stimuli that appear at an attended location. However, it is not clear that the mechanisms that underlie visuospatial attention are under the control of attention mechanisms that limit central processing in multiple-task situations. We investigated this question by incorporating a visual task that required the deployment of visuospatial attention as the second task of psychological refractory period (PRP) dual-task paradigms. The N2pc component of the event-related potential was used as an electrophysiological index of the moment-by-moment deployment of visuospatial attention to monitor when and where observers were attending while they performed concurrent central processing known to cause the PRP effect. Electrophysiological evidence shows that central processing interfered with the N2pc, suggesting that visuospatial attention is under the control of capacity-limited central mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Electrooculography
  • Humans
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Pitch Discrimination / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Refractory Period, Psychological / physiology*