Stages of Auditory Feature Conjunction: An Event-Related Brain Potential Study

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Auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded to tones of different frequencies and locations in a dichotic selective attention task in which Ss responded to occasional deviant tones of a prespecified location and frequency. Attention effects were isolated as negative difference (Nd) waves by subtracting ERPs to tones with no attended features from ERPs to the same tones when they shared target frequency, location, or both cues. The NI/P90 (latency 80–100 ms), originating in a tonotopically organized generator, was enhanced for all tones in the attended ear. Nd waves, beginning at 80 ms and lasting up to 700 ms, were seen to tones with either attended feature. Nd waves to frequency and location features had different scalp distributions consistent with generation in different cortical fields. Conjunction-specific Nds began 30–50 ms after Nds to individual features. The relative timing suggests that feature conjunction began before the analysis of individual features was complete.

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