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    Attentional Gain and Processing Capacity Limits Predict the Propensity to Neglect Unexpected Visual Stimuli

    Papera, Massimiliano and Richards, Anne (2016) Attentional Gain and Processing Capacity Limits Predict the Propensity to Neglect Unexpected Visual Stimuli. Psychophysiology 55 (3), pp. 639-649. ISSN 0048-5772.

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    Exogenous allocation of attentional resources allows the visual system to encode and maintain representations of stimuli in visual working memory (VWM). However, limits in the processing capacity to allocate resources can prevent unexpected visual stimuli from gaining access to VWM and thereby to consciousness. Using a novel approach to create unbiased stimuli of increasing saliency, we investigated visual processing during a visual search task in individuals who show a high or low propensity to neglect unexpected stimuli. When propensity to inattention is high, ERP recording show a diminished amplification concomitantly with an increase in theta band power during the N1 latency, followed by a poor target enhancement during the N2 latencies. Furthermore, a later modulation in the P3 latency was also found in individuals showing propensity to visual neglect, suggesting that more effort is required for conscious maintenance of visual information in VWM. Effects during early stages of processing (N80 and C1) were also observed suggesting that sensitivity to contrasts and medium to high spatial frequencies may be modulated by low-level saliency (albeit no statistical group differences were found). In accordance with the Global Workplace Model (GWM), our data indicate that a lack of visual attention resources in the low-level processors may be responsible for the failure to “ignite” a state of high-level activity spread across several brain areas that is necessary for stimuli to access awareness. These findings may aid in the development of diagnostic tests and intervention to detect/reduce inattention propensity to visual neglect of unexpected stimuli.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Attention, Awareness, ERPs, Computational modeling, Visual processes, Human factors
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Massimiliano Papera
    Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2016 10:56
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:21


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