ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (3): 460-471.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00460

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Behavioral oscillations in attentional processing

ZHANG Xiaodan1, ZHANG Lijin1, DING Yulong2, QU Zhe1()   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Received:2020-07-05 Online:2021-03-15 Published:2021-01-26
  • Contact: QU Zhe


Behavioral oscillations are periodic changes of behavioral performance which result from rhythmic mental processes. Through behavioral methods that have high temporal resolutions, prior studies have provided a unique perspective to investigate the temporal dynamics of visual attention. Phenomena of behavioral oscillations were observed in many types of attentional tasks. There was much evidence supporting that attentional sampling showed periodic changes mainly at two different rhythms: α (8~13 Hz) band which reflects attentional suppression and θ (4~8 Hz) band which reflects attentional shift. These results help revealing the temporal dynamics of attention and provide a new approach for the controversy between serial- and parallel-search theories of attention. Some potential factors, including task difficulty and cue validity, were found to be able to influence the rhythmic characteristics of behavioral oscillations. Behavioral oscillations showed consistent rhythms with neural oscillations in some attentional tasks, suggesting that they might involve similar mental processes. To systematically reveal the temporal dynamics of attention, future studies are needed to investigate the specific patterns of behavioral oscillations under various attentional control processes, as well as in multimodal attentional tasks.

Key words: behavioral oscillations, attention, rhythmic sampling, neural oscillations

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