ERD as an index of anticipatory attention? Effects of stimulus degradation

Bastiaansen, M. C. M., Böcker, K. B. E., & Brunia, C. H. M. (2002). ERD as an index of anticipatory attention? Effects of stimulus degradation. Psychophysiology, 39(1), 16-28. doi:10.1111/1469-8986.3910016.
Previous research has suggested that the stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN) is largely independent of stimulus modality. In contrast, the scalp topography of the event related desynchronization (ERD) related to the anticipation of stimuli providing knowledge of results (KR) is modality dependent. These findings, combined with functional SPN research, lead to the hypothesis that anticipatory ERD reflects anticipatory attention, whereas the SPN mainly depends on the affective-motivational properties of the anticipated stimulus. To further investigate the prestimulus ERD, and compare this measure with the SPN, 12 participants performed a time-estimation task, and were informed about the quality of their time estimation by an auditory or a visual stimulus providing KR. The KR stimuli could be either intact or degraded. Auditory degraded KR stimuli were less effective than other KR stimuli in guiding subsequent behavior, and were preceded by a larger SPN. There were no effects of degradation on the SPN in the visual modality. Preceding auditory KR stimuli no ERD was present, whereas preceding visual stimuli an occipital ERD was found. However, contrary to expectation, the latter was larger preceding intact than preceding degraded stimuli. It is concluded that the data largely agree with an interpretation of the pre-KR SPN as a reflection of the anticipation of the affective-motivational value of KR stimuli, and of the prestimulus ERD as a perceptual anticipatory attention process.
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