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Steady-State Visually Evoked Potentials and Feature-based Attention: Preregistered Null Results and a Focused Review of Methodological Considerations
Publisher: Journals Gateway
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2021) 33 (4): 695–724.
Published: 01 April 2021
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AbstractView article PDF
Feature-based attention is the ability to selectively attend to a particular feature (e.g., attend to red but not green items while looking for the ketchup bottle in your refrigerator), and steady-state visually evoked potentials (SSVEPs) measured from the human EEG signal have been used to track the neural deployment of feature-based attention. Although many published studies suggest that we can use trial-by-trial cues to enhance relevant feature information (i.e., greater SSVEP response to the cued color), there is ongoing debate about whether participants may likewise use trial-by-trial cues to voluntarily ignore a particular feature. Here, we report the results of a preregistered study in which participants either were cued to attend or to ignore a color. Counter to prior work, we found no attention-related modulation of the SSVEP response in either cue condition. However, positive control analyses revealed that participants paid some degree of attention to the cued color (i.e., we observed a greater P300 component to targets in the attended vs. the unattended color). In light of these unexpected null results, we conducted a focused review of methodological considerations for studies of feature-based attention using SSVEPs. In the review, we quantify potentially important stimulus parameters that have been used in the past (e.g., stimulation frequency, trial counts) and we discuss the potential importance of these and other task factors (e.g., feature-based priming) for SSVEP studies.