Attention-dependent sound offset-related brain potentials

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Abstract

When performing sensory tasks, knowing the potentially occurring goal-relevant and irrelevant stimulus events allows the establishment of selective attention sets, which result in enhanced sensory processing of goal-relevant events. In the auditory modality, such enhancements are reflected in the increased amplitude of the N1 ERP elicited by the onsets of task-relevant sounds. It has been recently suggested that ERPs to task-relevant sound offsets are similarly enhanced in a tone-focused state in comparison to a distracted one. The goal of the present study was to explore the influence of attention on ERPs elicited by sound offsets. ERPs elicited by tones in a duration-discrimination task were compared to ERPs elicited by the same tones in not-tone-focused attentional setting. Tone offsets elicited a consistent, attention-dependent biphasic (positive-negative-P1-N1) ERP waveform for tone durations ranging from 150 to 450 ms. The evidence, however, did not support the notion that the offset-related ERPs reflected an offset-specific attention set: The offset-related ERPs elicited in a duration-discrimination condition (in which offsets were task relevant) did not significantly differ from those elicited in a pitch-discrimination condition (in which the offsets were task irrelevant). Although an N2 reflecting the processing of offsets in task-related terms contributed to the observed waveform, this contribution was separable from the offset-related P1 and N1. The results demonstrate that when tones are attended, offset-related ERPs may substantially overlap endogenous ERP activity in the postoffset interval irrespective of tone duration, and attention differences may cause ERP differences in such postoffset intervals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychophysiology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016

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Keywords

  • Attention
  • Auditory processes
  • ERPs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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