Oscillatory alpha-band suppression mechanisms during the rapid attentional shifts required to perform an anti-saccade task

Daniel Belyusar, Adam C. Snyder, Hans Peter Frey, Mark R. Harwood, Josh Wallman, John J. Foxe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Neuroimaging has demonstrated anatomical overlap between covert and overt attention systems, although behavioral and electrophysiological studies have suggested that the two systems do not rely on entirely identical circuits or mechanisms. In a parallel line of research, topographically-specific modulations of alpha-band power (~. 8-14. Hz) have been consistently correlated with anticipatory states during tasks requiring covert attention shifts. These tasks, however, typically employ cue-target-interval paradigms where attentional processes are examined across relatively protracted periods of time and not at the rapid timescales implicated during overt attention tasks. The anti-saccade task, where one must first covertly attend for a peripheral target, before executing a rapid overt attention shift (i.e. a saccade) to the opposite side of space, is particularly well-suited for examining the rapid dynamics of overt attentional deployments. Here, we asked whether alpha-band oscillatory mechanisms would also be associated with these very rapid overt shifts, potentially representing a common neural mechanism across overt and covert attention systems. High-density electroencephalography in conjunction with infra-red eye-tracking was recorded while participants engaged in both pro- and anti-saccade task blocks. Alpha power, time-locked to saccade onset, showed three distinct phases of significantly lateralized topographic shifts, all occurring within a period of less than 1. s, closely reflecting the temporal dynamics of anti-saccade performance. Only two such phases were observed during the pro-saccade task. These data point to substantially more rapid temporal dynamics of alpha-band suppressive mechanisms than previously established, and implicate oscillatory alpha-band activity as a common mechanism across both overt and covert attentional deployments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-407
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013


  • Attention
  • Cueing
  • EEG
  • Electrophysiology
  • High-density electrical mapping
  • Oscillations
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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