Attentional cues affect accuracy and reaction time via different cognitive and neural processes.
van Ede F., de Lange FP., Maris E.
We investigated whether symbolic endogenous attentional cues affect perceptual accuracy and reaction time (RT) via different cognitive and neural processes. We recorded magnetoencephalography in 19 humans while they performed a cued somatosensory discrimination task in which the cue-target interval was varied between 0 and 1000 ms. Comparing behavioral and neural measures, we show that (1) attentional cueing affects accuracy and RT with different time courses and (2) the time course of our neural measure (anticipatory suppression of neuronal oscillations in stimulus-receiving sensory cortex) only accounts for the accuracy time course. A model is proposed in which the effect on accuracy is explained by a single process (preparatory excitability increase in sensory cortex), whereas the effect on RT is explained by an additional process that is sensitive to cue-target compatibility (post-target comparison between expected and actual stimulus location). These data provide new insights into the mechanisms underlying behavioral consequences of attentional cueing.