Task performance in covert, but not overt, attention correlates with early laterality of visual evoked potentials

Rinat Hilo-Merkovich, Marisa Carrasco, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention affects visual perception at target locations via the amplification of stimuli signal strength, perceptual performance and perceived contrast. Behavioral and neural correlates of attention can be observed when attention is both covertly and overtly oriented (with or without accompanying eye movements). Previous studies have demonstrated that at the grand-average level, lateralization of Event Related Potentials (ERP) is associated with attentional facilitation at cued, relative to un-cued locations. Yet, the correspondence between ERP lateralization and behavior has not been established at the single-subject level. Specifically, it is an open question whether inter-individual differences in the neural manifestation of attentional orienting can predict differences in perception. Here, we addressed this question by examining the correlation between ERP lateralization and visual sensitivity at attended locations. Participants were presented with a cue indicating where a low-contrast grating patch target will appear, following a delay of varying durations. During this delay, while participants were waiting for the target to appear, a task-irrelevant checkerboard probe was presented briefly and bilaterally. ERP was measured relative to the onset of this probe. In separate blocks, participants were requested to report detection of a low-contrast target either by making a fast eye-movement toward the target (overt orienting), or by pressing a button (covert orienting). Results show that in the covert orienting condition, ERP lateralization of individual participants was positively correlated with their mean visual sensitivity for the target. But, no such correlation was found in the overt orienting condition. We conclude that ERP lateralization of individual participants can predict their performance on a covert, but not an overt, target detection task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-339
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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