Abstract: An Event-related Potential Study of the Neural Mechanisms Governing Selective Visual Attention

Visual selective attention is a process that allows us to perform many of our everyday functions, such as locating a friend in a crowded room, by allowing us to attend to features of the target while ignoring the features of any distractors. This study seeks to understand how top-down processing, bottom-up processing, and selection history interact, both at the neural and behavioral level, to allow for visual selective attention. To do this, I have collected data using electroencephalography from participants who were given a visual search task. I will be examining, processing, and analyzing this raw data to identify and extract event-related potentials (ERPs), namely the N2pc. By comparing the ERPs elicited with varying orientation, location, and similarity of the target and distractor, as well as the absence or presence of priming, I hope to identify a pattern in the N2pc elicited that corresponds to how the brain selectively attends to visual stimuli.

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Background Information: An Event-related Potential Study of the Neural Mechanisms Governing Selective Visual Attention

It is well known that the occipital lobe, a brain region lying at the back of the head, is the brain’s visual center. The neural mechanisms that underlie how visual data is processed and analyzed are less understood. Currently, it is believed that these mechanisms can be broken down into three broad categories: top-down processing, bottom-up processing, and processing based on selection history.

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