The Relation between Infant Covert Orienting, Sustained Attention and Brain Activity

Abstract

This study used measures of event-related potentials (ERPs) and cortical source analysis to examine the effect of covert orienting and sustained attention on 3- and 4.5-month-old infants’ brain activity in a spatial cueing paradigm. Cortical source analysis was conducted with current density reconstruction using realistic head models created from age-appropriate infant MRIs. The validity effect was found in the P1 ERP component that was greater for valid than neutral trials in the electrodes contralateral to the visual targets when the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) was short. Cortical source analysis revealed greater current density amplitude around the P1 peak latency in the contralateral inferior occipital and ventral temporal regions for valid than neutral and invalid trials. The processing cost effect was found in the N1 ERP component that was greater for neutral than invalid trials in the short SOA condition. This processing cost effect was also shown in the current density amplitude around the N1 peak latency in the contralateral inferior and middle occipital and middle and superior temporal regions. Infant sustained attention was found to modulate infants’ brain responses in covert orienting by enhancing the P1 ERP responses and current density amplitude in their cortical sources during sustained attention. These findings suggest that the neural mechanisms that underpin covert orienting already exist in 3- to 4.5-month-old, and they could be facilitated by infant sustained attention.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the following grants: the NIH grant, #R37 HD18942, to JER.

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Correspondence to Wanze Xie.

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Xie, W., Richards, J.E. The Relation between Infant Covert Orienting, Sustained Attention and Brain Activity. Brain Topogr 30, 198–219 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10548-016-0505-3

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Keywords

  • Infant covert orienting
  • Sustained attention
  • ERPs
  • Cortical source analysis