Electrophysiological dynamics of covert and overt visual attention.

Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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    Attention is a key neural function for choosing certain information to receive more processing than others. Attention is allocated either by directly looking at the target (overt) or without eye movement towards the target (covert). The current study was designed to extract relevant features by using steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEP) task. SSVEP task was presented to subjects at the same time that the electroencephalography (EEG) signals were recorded by the scalp electrodes. Subjects were instructed to respond to a certain stimulus by pressing a button. This way attention was measure in continuous manner. Results showed that the amplitude of SSVEP frequencies is higher in overt than covert attention. This indicates that by overt attention events are registered with larger power. However, exploring the harmonics of frequencies showed that covert attention generates larger 2nd harmonic (e.g. 12Hz) than the 1st harmonic (e.g. 6Hz). This pattern was not observed in overt attention. We suggest that covert attention increases the non-linearity in the visual system. Results from the source analysis showed that SSVEP signals are extracted from the primary visual cortex in overt attention. However, when covert attention is allocated to SSVEPs, frequencies are extracted from parietal and frontal areas. This shows that covert attention recruits higher cognitive function. To test how SSVEPs are represented in higher brain areas, we conducted an invasive multi-unit recording from rhesus monkeys. Monkeys were trained to perform similar SSVEP task. Recording was done from somatosensory (S1) and motor (M1) cortices. Results showed that the neuronal ring rates in S1 and M1 not only increased selectively to attended icker stimulus, but also they were highly synchronized. Moreover, some SSVEP frequencies was enhanced in single neurons. These results showed, for the rst time, that visual attention to repetitive stimuli is able to regulate neuronal activities in S1 and M1 regions.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherDTU Elektro
    Number of pages141
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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