The current study aimed to investigate the effect of attentional selection of distinctive local elements on the processing of hierarchically organized patterns. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded from subjects during identifications of global or local shapes of hierarchical patterns where either all local elements were identical (homogeneous stimulus) or a local element closest to fixation was distinguished by color from others (pop-out stimulus). One group of subjects was presented with the homogeneous stimuli and required to identify global or local shapes in separate blocks of trials. The other group was presented with the pop-out stimuli and asked to attend to the unique local item in the local task. A global precedence effect was observed in behavioral data. ERPs showed enlarged posterior P1 and N2 amplitudes in the local relative to global conditions. Top-down attention to the pop-out item resulted in increased frontal/central N2 amplitudes in the local condition but eliminated the temporal/occipital N2 enhancement in the local relative to global conditions. Top-down attention to the pop-out item also increased local-to-global interference in reaction times and frontal N2 latencies. The results suggest that a frontal mechanism is involved in directing top-down attention to a specific local item whereas a temporal/occipital mechanism is engaged in an attentional filtering process in the identification of local shapes in hierarchical analysis.
- Event-related potential (ERP)
- Global precedence
- Hierarchical pattern
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology