— Motivated Cognition Lab

New paper in Journal of Neuroscience

A big project from Poppy Sharp’s PhD thesis has (finally) been published! Congrats Poppy!

Sharp, Gutteling, Melcher, & Hickey (in press). Spatial attention tunes temporal processing in early visual cortex by speeding and slowing alpha oscillations. The Journal of Neuroscience.

The perception of dynamic visual stimuli relies on two apparently conflicting perceptual mechanisms: rapid visual input must sometimes be integrated into unitary percepts but at other times must be segregated or parsed into separate objects or events. Though they have opposite effects on our perceptual experience, the deployment of spatial attention benefits both of these operations. Little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying this impact of spatial attention on temporal perception. Here we use magnetoencephalography (MEG) to demonstrate that the deployment of spatial attention for the purpose of segregating or integrating visual stimuli impacts pre-stimulus oscillatory activity in retinotopic visual brain areas where the attended location is represented. Alpha-band oscillations contralateral to an attended location are therefore faster than ipsilateral oscillations when stimuli appearing at this location will need to be segregated, but slower in expectation of the need for integration, consistent with the idea that alpha frequency is linked to perceptual sampling rate. These results demonstrate a novel interaction between temporal visual processing and the allocation of attention in space.