Investigating the control mechanisms of spatial attention
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Prior research has uncovered a close coupling of spatial attention to sensori-motor processes both anatomically and in function. The outstanding question investigated in this research was whether the evident coupling between spatial attention and sensori-motor processes was dissociable. Neural correlates of spatial attention and oculomotor preparation were investigated using event-related potentials (ERP) elicited by a symbolic cue in four different experimental conditions: same side, opposite side, attention, and oculomotor. The crucial test to dissociate the links between spatial attention and oculomotor preparation processes was the simultaneous cuing of each process to opposite sides of space. As expected, ERP components found in the same side, attention, and oculomotor conditions were entirely absent in the opposite side condition. Interpreted in the framework of the premotor theory of attention (Rizzolatti et al., 1994), this investigation supports an argument for mandatory links between spatial attention and oculomotor preparation.