Visuo-spatial processing and the N1 component of the ERP

Authors

  • Edmund Wascher,

    1. IfADo—Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, Germany
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  • Sven Hoffmann,

    1. IfADo—Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, Germany
    2. Psychological Methodology and Diagnostics, Wuppertal University, Wuppertal, Germany
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  • Jessica Sänger,

    1. IfADo—Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, Germany
    2. Institute of Experimental Psychology II, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
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  • Marc Grosjean

    1. IfADo—Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, Germany
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  • This study was supported by a grant of the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” [Wa 987/11-1] to Edmund Wascher and Marc Grosjean. The authors would like to thank Robert Dell'Acqua and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript.

Address reprint requests to: Edmund Wascher, IfADo—Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Ardeystrasse 67, 44139 Dortmund, Germany. Email: wascher@ifado.de

Abstract

Asymmetries in posterior ERP components, such as the N1, are generally taken to reflect the visual processing of spatial information in absolute (fixation-based) coordinates. Yet, it is also well established that the position of an object can be coded relative to the position of other objects. To examine the ERP correlates of relative spatial coding, two experiments were conducted in which spatially neutral target stimuli were preceded, accompanied, or followed by laterally presented, task-irrelevant accessory stimuli. Targets presented simultaneously with a lateral accessory evoked, despite physical asymmetry, a bilateral, symmetric N1. Targets that followed the accessory evoked, despite physical symmetry, an asymmetric N1, with a maximum contralateral to the accessory N1. Thus, lateralizations in the N1 range already reflect relative spatial coding rather than just the processing of the absolute location of incoming information.

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