Effects of intermodal attention on the auditory steady-state response and the event-related potential


  • This work was supported by a stipend of the German Research Foundation (graduate program “Function of attention in cognition”; DFG 1182). The experiment was realized using Cogent 2000, developed by the Cogent 2000 team at the FIL and the ICN.

Address reprint requests to: Katja Saupe, Institute of Psychology I, University of Leipzig, Seeburgstr. 14–20, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail: saupe@uni-leipzig.de


The aim of the present study was to simultaneously measure and compare intermodal attention effects in event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and auditory steady-state responses (ASSRs). For this purpose, 40-Hz amplitude modulated tones and a visual fixation cross were presented concurrently. By means of target detection tasks either on the sounds or on the fixation cross, participants' attention was directed to the respective modality. Attended sounds elicited a negative difference (Nd) in the ERP relative to unattended sounds. Nd was divided into an early and a late part as often observed for intramodal attention. Moreover, attention to the sounds led to a significant enhancement of the ASSR. This modulation of the ASSR by intermodal attention is demonstrated for the first time in the EEG. The present data suggest that ASSRs could provide a useful tool for the investigation of the neural dynamics of intermodal attentional processes.