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Attentional and sensory effects of lowered levels of intrinsic alertness

Matthias, E. and Bublak, P. and Costa, A. and Muller, Hermann J. and Schneider, W.X. and Finke, K. (2009) Attentional and sensory effects of lowered levels of intrinsic alertness. Neuropsychologia 47 (14), pp. 3255-3264. ISSN 0028-3932.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009....

Abstract

Low levels of intrinsic alertness are associated with lateralized performance in visual tasks, similar to neglect of the left (ipsilesional) visual hemi-field. However, it is unclear whether reduced alertness produces a specific lateralization of spatial-attentional processes in terms of the prioritization of right- over left-side stimuli, or whether it affects more basic functions of visuo-sensory coding, and/or higher function of the top-down control of selection, of stimuli on the left side. To decide between these alternatives, the present study examined the effects of lowered alertness, induced by a 50-min vigilance task, in a partial-report paradigm of briefly presented letter displays. With only one (unilateral) stimulus in display, no specific hemi-field effects were found under low-alertness conditions, indicating that reduced alertness impairs neither sensory effectiveness nor the top-town control of selection. However, with dual, bilateral stimuli, report accuracy was specifically affected for left-side targets (in subjects who showed comparable performance for both sides under normal-alertness conditions). This pattern can be interpreted in terms of a specific bias in spatial-attentional weighting, where prioritization of stimuli on the right leads to (mild) extinction of targets on the left. Moreover, participants who had a lower general level of alertness also showed a more pronounced re-distribution of weights, evidenced by a more severe imbalance in report accuracy, in a low compared to a normal state of alertness. This suggests that a low general level of intrinsic alertness engenders a specific vulnerability to neglect-like performance with a (mild) left-side extinction.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Spatial attention, alertness, extinction, theory of visual attention (TVA)
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2010 14:40
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:19
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2498

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