Using event-related potentials (ERPs) of the electroencephalogram, we investigated how cognitive control is altered by the scope of an attentional template currently activated in visual working memory. Participants performed a spatial cuing task where an irrelevant color singleton cue was presented prior to a target array. Blockwise, the target was either a red circle or a gray square and had to be searched within homogenous (gray circles) or heterogeneous non-targets (differently colored circles or various shapes). Thereby we aimed to trigger the adoption of different attentional templates: a broader singleton or a narrower, more specific feature template. ERP markers of attentional selection and inhibitory control showed that the amount of cognitive control was overall enhanced when participants searched on the basis of a feature-specific template: the analysis revealed reduced selection (N2pc, frontal P2) and pronounced inhibition (negative shift of frontal N2) of the irrelevant color cue when participants searched for a feature target. On behavioral level attentional capture was most pronounced in the color condition with no differentiation between the task-induced scopes of the attentional template.
Mertes, C., & Schneider, D. (2018). Subtle distinctions: How attentional templates influence EEG parameters of cognitive control in a spatial cuing paradigm. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00113