Attention and the readiness for action

Baker, Katharine S., Mattingley, Jason B., Chambers, Christopher D. and Cunnington, Ross (2011) Attention and the readiness for action. Neuropsychologia, 49 12: 3303-3313. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.08.003

Author Baker, Katharine S.
Mattingley, Jason B.
Chambers, Christopher D.
Cunnington, Ross
Title Attention and the readiness for action
Journal name Neuropsychologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-3932
Publication date 2011-10-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.08.003
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 49
Issue 12
Start page 3303
End page 3313
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject 3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
2805 Cognitive Neuroscience
2802 Behavioral Neuroscience
Abstract The initiation of voluntary action is preceded by up to 2. s of preparatory neural activity, originating in premotor and supplementary motor regions of the brain. The function of this extended period of pre-movement activity is unclear. Although recent studies have suggested that pre-movement activity is influenced by attention to action, little is understood about the specific processes that are involved in this preparatory period prior to voluntary action. We recorded readiness potentials averaged from EEG activity as participants made voluntary self-paced finger movements. We manipulated the processing resources available for action preparation using concurrent perceptual load and cognitive working memory load tasks. Results showed that pre-movement activity was significantly reduced only under conditions of high working memory load, when resources for planning action were limited by the concurrent cognitive load task. In contrast, limiting attentional resources in the perceptual load task had no effect on pre-movement readiness activity. This suggests that movement preparatory processes involve mechanisms of cognitive control that are also required for working memory, and not more general engagement of selective attentional resources. We propose that the extended period of pre-movement neural activity preceding voluntary action reflects the engagement of cognitive control mechanisms for endogenously orienting attention in time, in readiness for the initiation of voluntary action.
Keyword Motor preparation
Readiness potential
Cognitive control
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID FT0991468
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 11 August 2011.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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