Differences between endogenous attention to spatial locations and sensory modalities.
Vibell J., Klinge C., Zampini M., Nobre AC., Spence C.
Vibell et al. (J Cogn Neurosci 19:109-120, 2007) reported that endogenously attending to a sensory modality (vision or touch) modulated perceptual processing, in part, by the relative speeding-up of neural activation (i.e., as a result of prior entry). However, it was unclear whether it was the fine temporal discrimination required by the temporal-order judgment task that was used, or rather, the type of attentional modulation (spatial locations or sensory modalities) that was responsible for the shift in latencies that they observed. The present study used a similar experimental design to evaluate whether spatial attention would also yield similar latency effects suggestive of prior entry in the early visual P1 potentials. Intriguingly, while the results demonstrate similar neural latency shifts attributable to spatial attention, they started at a somewhat later stage than seen in Vibell et al.'s study. These differences are consistent with different neural mechanisms underlying attention to a specific sensory modality versus to a spatial location.