How voluntary orienting of attention and alerting modulate costs of conflict processing.Sci Rep. 2017 04 24; 7:46701.SR
There is evidence that pre-cued valid orienting of attention to competing information diminishes costs of brain processing of conflict. Still unclear, because scantily addressed by neuroimaging studies and mostly analyzed by means of behavioral indexing, it is whether conflict undergoes an equivalent modulation by tonic and pre-cued phasic alerting. Here, we investigated the functional relationships between attention orienting, alerting and executive systems using the Attention Network Test (ANT). Both reaction times (RTs) and ERPs were recorded. In line with previous literature, results showed that both RTs and a so-called ERPs conflict negativity (CN), prominent at anterior scalp and indexing conflict processing, were positively modulated by a prior valid orienting of attention onto the location of conflicting stimuli. Indeed, in this condition both kinds of markers showed faster latencies, while CN also reached higher amplitude values than in both alerting conditions, and, in turn, in pre-cued phasic alerting than in uncued tonic alerting. Moreover, while CN was larger over the right hemisphere independent of functional conditions, it was strongly modulated by the latter over the left hemisphere. Our ERP findings support the views of conflict modulation by both orienting and phasic alerting and of a functional integration between attentional brain networks.