Normal aging selectively diminishes alpha lateralization in visual spatial attention

Xiangfei Hong, Junfeng Sun, Jesse J. Bengson, George R Mangun, Shanbao Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


EEG studies of cue-induced visual alpha power (8-13. Hz) lateralization have been conducted on young adults without examining differences that may develop as a consequence of normal aging. Here, we examined age-related differences in spatial attention by comparing healthy older and younger adults. Our key finding is that cue-induced alpha power lateralization was observed in younger, but not older adults, even though both groups exhibited classic event-related potential signatures of spatial orienting. Specifically, both younger and older adults showed significant early directing-attention negativity (EDAN), anterior directing-attention negativity (ADAN), late directing-attention positivity (LDAP) and contingent negative variation (CNV). Furthermore, target-evoked sensory components were enhanced for attended relative to unattended targets in both younger and older groups. This pattern of results suggests that although older adults can successfully allocate spatial attention, they do so without the lateralization of alpha power that is commonly observed in younger adults. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that younger and older adults might engage different neural mechanisms for attentional orienting, and that alpha power lateralization during visual spatial attention is a phenomenon that diminishes during normal aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-363
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Aging
  • Alpha power
  • Event-related potential
  • Spatial attention
  • Top-down control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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