Covert manual response preparation triggers attentional shifts: ERP evidence for the premotor theory of attention

Eimer, Martin; Forster, Bettina; Van Velzen, Jose L. and Prabhu, Gita. 2005. Covert manual response preparation triggers attentional shifts: ERP evidence for the premotor theory of attention. Neuropsychologia, 43(6), pp. 957-966. ISSN 00283932 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The premotor theory of attention claims that the preparation of goal-directed action and shifts of attention are closely linked, because they are controlled by shared sensorymotor mechanisms. Until now, support for this theory has come primarily from studies demonstrating links between saccade programming and attention shifts. The present event-related brain potential (ERP) study demonstrated that attentional orienting processes are also elicited during the covert preparation of unimanual responses. ERPs were recorded in the interval between a visual response-hand selection cue and a subsequent visual Go/Nogo signal when participants prepared to lift their left or right index finger. Lateralised ERP components elicited during response preparation were very similar to components previously observed during instructed endogenous attention shifts, indicating that analogous attentional orienting processes are activated in both cases. Somatosensory ERP components (P90, N140) were enhanced when task-irrelevant tactile probes were delivered during response preparation to the hand involved in an anticipated response, even when probes were presented well in advance of response execution. These results suggest that attentional shifts are triggered during unimanual response preparation, as predicted by the premotor theory. This link between manual response programming and attention is consistent with the hypothesis that common mechanisms are involved in the control of attention and action.

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Date Deposited:

01 Apr 2011 08:30

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 13:54

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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