Target Amplification and Distractor Inhibition: Theta Oscillatory Dynamics of Selective Attention in a Flanker Task

Céline C. Haciahmet, Christian Frings, Bernhard Pastötter
2021 Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience  
AbstractSelective attention is a key mechanism to monitor conflict-related processing and behaviour, by amplifying task-relevant processing and inhibiting task-irrelevant information. Conflict monitoring and resolution is typically associated with brain oscillatory power increase in the theta frequency range (3-8 Hz), as indexed by increased midfrontal theta power. We expand previous findings of theta power increase related to conflict processing and distractor inhibition by considering
more » ... nal target amplification to be represented in theta frequency as well. The present study (N = 41) examined EEG oscillatory activities associated with stimulus and response conflict in a lateralized flanker task. Depending on the perceptual (in)congruency and response (in)compatibility of distractor-target associations, resulting stimulus and response conflicts were examined in behavioural and electrophysiological data analyses. Both response and stimulus conflict emerged in RT analysis. Regarding EEG data, response-locked cluster analysis showed an increase of midfrontal theta power related to response conflict. In addition, stimulus-locked cluster analysis revealed early clusters with increased parietal theta power for nonconflicting compared to conflicting trials, followed by increased midfrontal theta power for both stimulus and response conflict. Our results suggest that conflict resolution in the flanker task relies on a combination of target amplification, depicted by parietal theta power increase, and distractor inhibition, indexed by midfrontal theta power increase, for both stimulus and response conflicts. Attentional amplification of sensory target features is discussed with regard to a domain-general conflict monitoring account.
doi:10.3758/s13415-021-00876-y pmid:33721227 fatcat:4wxmztseind55cuuzjiyel6ecy