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Endogenous auditory frequency-based attention modulates electroencephalogram-based measures of obligatory sensory activity in humans

Sheedy, Caroline M.a; Power, Alan J.b,e; Reilly, Richard B.a,b,c,d; Crosse, Michael J.a,b,c; Loughnane, Gerard M.a,b,c; Lalor, Edmund C.a,b,c

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000070

Auditory selective attention is the ability to enhance the processing of a single sound source, while simultaneously suppressing the processing of other competing sound sources. Recent research has addressed a long-running debate by showing that endogenous attention produces effects on obligatory sensory responses to continuous and competing auditory stimuli. However, until now, this result has only been shown under conditions where the competing stimuli differed in both their frequency characteristics and, importantly, their spatial location. Thus, it is unknown whether endogenous selective attention based only on nonspatial features modulates obligatory sensory processing. Here, we investigate this issue using a diotic paradigm, such that competing auditory stimuli differ in frequency, but had no separation in space. We find a significant effect of attention on electroencephalogram-based measures of obligatory sensory processing at several poststimulus latencies. We discuss these results in terms of previous research on feature-based attention and by comparing our findings with the previous work using stimuli that differed both in terms of spatial and frequency-based characteristics.

aTrinity College Institute of Neuroscience

bSchool of Engineering

cTrinity Centre for Bioengineering

dSchool of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland

eDepartment of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence to Edmund C. Lalor, PhD, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland Tel: +353 1 8961743; fax: +353 1 6772442; e-mail:

Received August 27, 2013

Accepted September 24, 2013

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