Involuntary Attention and Distractibility as Evaluated with Event-Related Brain PotentialsEscera C. · Alho K. · Schröger E. · Winkler I.
aNeurodynamics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Spain; bCognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, and cDepartment of Psychology, University of Tampere, Finland; dInstitute for General Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany; eInstitute for Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
This article reviews recent event-related brain potential (ERP) studies of involuntary attention and distractibility in response to novelty and change in the acoustic environment. These studies show that the mismatch negativity, N1 and P3a ERP components elicited by deviant or novel sounds in an unattended sequence of repetitive stimuli index different processes along the course to involuntary attention switch to distracting stimuli. These studies used new auditory-auditory and auditory-visual distraction paradigms, which enable one to assess objectively abnormal distractibility in several clinical patient groups, such as those suffering from closed-head injuries or chronic alcoholism.
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