, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 328-334
Date: 21 Sep 2012

Attentional preparation based on temporal expectancy modulates processing at the perceptual level

Abstract

Research that uses simple response time tasks and neuroimaging has emphasized that attentional preparation based on temporal expectancy modulates processing at motor levels. A novel approach was taken to study whether the temporal orienting of attention can also modulate perceptual processing. A temporal-cuing paradigm was used together with a rapid serial visual presentation procedure, in order to maximize the processing demands of perceptual analysis. Signal detection theory was applied in order to examine whether temporal orienting affects processes related to perceptual sensitivity or to response criterion (indexed byďand beta measures, respectively). If temporal orienting implies perceptual preparation, we would expect to observe an increase in perceptual sensitivity (ď) when a target appeared at expected, rather than unexpected, time intervals. Indeed, our behavioral results opened the possibility that focusing attention on time intervals not only enhances motor processing, as has been shown by previous research, but also might improve perceptual processing.

This research was financially supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Cultura with Predoctoral Grant FPU-AP2000-3167 to the first author and by Research Grants MCyT, BSO2000-1503 and BSO2002-04308-C02-02 to J.L. and MCyT, BSO2000-1411-C02 to P.T.