Feature processing during high-rate auditory selective attention

David L Woods, Claude Alain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and reaction times were, analyzed in a selective attention task in which subjects attended to tone pips presented at high rates-Xinterstimulua intervals [ISIs] of 40-200 msec). Subjects responded to infrequent target tones of a specified frequency (250 or 4000 Hz) and location (left or right ear) that were louder than otherwise identical tones presented randomly to the left and right ears. Negative difference (Nd) waves were isolated by subtracting ERPs to tones with no target features from ERPs to the same tones when they shared target location, frequency, or both frequency and location cues. Nd waves began 60-70 msec after tone onset and lasted until 252-350 msec after tone onset, even for tones with single attended cues. The duration of Nd waves exceeded the ISIs between successive tones, implying that several stimuli underwent concurrent analysis. Nd waves associated with frequency processing had scalp distributions different from those associated with location processing, implying that the features were analyzed in distinct cortical areas. Nd waves specific to auditory feature conjunction were isolated. These began at latencies of 110-120 msec, some 30-40 msec after the Nds to single features. The relative timing of the different Nd waves suggests that auditory feaure conjunction begins after a brief parallel analysis of individual features but before feature analysis is complete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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