In an explorative study, we investigated the time course of attentional selection shifts in feature-based attention in early visual cortex by means of steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs). To this end, we presented four flickering random dot kinematograms with red/blue, horizontal/vertical bars, respectively. Given the oscillatory nature of SSVEPs, we were able to investigate neural temporal dynamics of facilitation and inhibition/suppression when participants shifted attention either within (i.e., color to color) or between feature dimensions (i.e., color to orientation). Extending a previous study of our laboratory [Müller, M. M., Trautmann, M., & Keitel, C. Early visual cortex dynamics during top–down modulated shifts of feature-selective attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28, 643–655, 2016] to a full factorial design, we replicated a critical finding of our previous study: Facilitation of color was quickest, regardless of the origin of the shift (from color or orientation). Furthermore, facilitation of the newly to-be-attended and inhibition/suppression of the then to-be-ignored feature is not a time-invariant process that occurs instantaneously, but a biphasic one with longer time delays between the two processes. Interestingly, inhibition/suppression of the to-be-ignored feature after the shifting cue had a much longer latency with between- compared to within-dimensional shifts (by about 130–150 msec). The exploratory nature of our study is reasoned by two limiting factors: (a) Identical to our precursor study, we found no attentional SSVEP amplitude time course modulation for orientation, and (b) the signal-to-noise ratio for single trials was too poor to allow for reliable statistical testing of the latencies that were obtained with running t tests of averaged data.

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