Tracking the voluntary control of auditory spatial attention with event-related brain potentials

Psychophysiology. 2009 Mar;46(2):357-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2008.00778.x. Epub 2009 Jan 26.


A lateralized event-related potential (ERP) component elicited by attention-directing cues (ADAN) has been linked to frontal-lobe control but is often absent when spatial attention is deployed in the auditory modality. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ERP activity associated with frontal-lobe control of auditory spatial attention is distributed bilaterally by comparing ERPs elicited by attention-directing cues and neutral cues in a unimodal auditory task. This revealed an initial ERP positivity over the anterior scalp and a later ERP negativity over the parietal scalp. Distributed source analysis indicated that the anterior positivity was generated primarily in bilateral prefrontal cortices, whereas the more posterior negativity was generated in parietal and temporal cortices. The anterior ERP positivity likely reflects frontal-lobe attentional control, whereas the subsequent ERP negativity likely reflects anticipatory biasing of activity in auditory cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult