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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Anna Grubert

Becker, Si.I., Grubert, A. & Dux, P.E. (2014). Distinct neural networks for target feature versus dimension changes in visual search, as revealed by EEG and fMRI. NeuroImage 102(Part 2): 798-808.

Author(s) from Durham


In visual search, responses are slowed, from one trial to the next, both when the target dimension changes (e.g., from a color target to a size target) and when the target feature changes (e.g., from a red target to a green target) relative to being repeated across trials. The present study examined whether such feature and dimension switch costs can be attributed to the same underlying mechanism(s). Contrary to this contention, an EEG study showed that feature changes influenced visual selection of the target (i.e., delayed N2pc onset), whereas dimension changes influenced the later process of response selection (i.e., delayed s-LRP onset). An fMRI study provided convergent evidence for the two-system view: Compared with repetitions, feature changes led to increased activation in the occipital cortex, and superior and inferior parietal lobules, which have been implicated in spatial attention. By contrast, dimension changes led to activation of a fronto-posterior network that is primarily linked with response selection (i.e., pre-motor cortex, supplementary motor area and frontal areas). Taken together, the results suggest that feature and dimension switch costs are based on different processes. Specifically, whereas target feature changes delay attention shifts to the target, target dimension changes interfere with later response selection operations.