CE28 - Cognition, éducation, formation tout au long de la vie

Neural bases of temporal preparation – NeT-Prep

Neural bases of Temporal Attention


Temporal Attention

The main objective of the current project is to investigate the neural bases of temporal preparation.

In this project, the main methods of cognitive neuroscience and psychology are used. In particular, we will be using some techniques of mental chronometry, electrophysiology and neuro-stimulation.

The main results will be published in scientific reviews and journals.

We prospect to to investigate temporal preparation in stroke patients and to conduct some neuroimaging studies.

1. Capizzi, Chica, Lupianez & Charras. (submitted). Combining spatial and temporal attention: Independent or interactive effects? A comprehensive review.

Our surrounding environment is usually too rich for our system to efficiently process all the information. To deal with this limited capacity, our sensory and cognitive systems need to select the relevant and salient items in the visual scene in order to optimize behavior. In normal behavior, dysfunctional selection is prevalent, as when you are looking for your mobile phone while you are already holding it in your hand or when searching desperately for a pen located right in front of you on your desk. Yet, dysfunctional selection is not always critical for survival, but in rapidly changing situations, like driving, missing relevant and salient information, such as a red stop sign, may have dramatic consequences. The objective of my project is to investigate the cognitive processes underlying information selection in order to improve sensory processing in critical situations such as cognitive pathologies (hemi-spatial neglect), and rapidly changing environments (car driving and aircraft flying). A vast majority of studies in the field of cognitive neuroscience have focused on how information is selected over space, and more specifically on how orienting attentional resources across the visual field modulates information processing. However, to expect optimized behavior, the system should not only adjust to where to pay attention but also should deploy attentional resources at the optimal moment in time. To do so, the cognitive system should anticipate when the decisive event is about to occur. Temporal information can be conveyed by means of cues preceding targets, which can either be symbolic and predictive (referred to as endogenous temporal orienting) or consist in rhythmic information (referred to as rhythmic temporal orienting). Most noteworthy, temporal attention can also be oriented on the basis of elapsed time. As the probability of target occurrence increases over time, attentional resources are reoriented as a function of elapsing time. This phenomenon is referred to as the foreperiod effect (or hazard function in the literature). Therefore, the longer you wait for an event to occur, the faster and more accurate you are to perceive it (Niemi & Näätänen, 1981; Vangkilde et al., 2012). To optimize behavior, the cognitive system is therefore able to use endogenous or rhythmic cues as well as elapsing time to deploy attentional resources at the optimal moment in time. The project Net-Prep aims to investigate, at a behavioral and neural level, the links between spatial attention and temporal preparation through behavioral studies, neuropsychological evidence and neuroimaging methods.
Recent studies agree that the use of predictive and symbolic temporal information correlates with left parietal cortex activations (Davranche et al., 2011; Cotti et al., 2011 and Coull et al., 2013; 2016). However, no causal role for left parietal cortex has ever been demonstrated. In the first research program, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the left parietal cortex is used to reaffirm its implication in temporal preparation. The second research program aims to investigate to what extent temporal and spatial attention, when oriented voluntarily, can combine to enhance sensory information, and to decipher the neural bases of this interaction. Finally, the third research program questions the links between temporal preparation and exogenous spatial orienting. In left hemi-spatial neglect, a syndrome occurring in 85% of patients in subacute phase of a right hemisphere stroke, exogenous spatial orienting is severely impaired. The aim is thus to provide evidence that directing attention to a particular moment of time can improve exogenous attentional orienting in patients suffering from hemi-spatial neglect.
As a conclusion, the Net-Prep project aims to elucidate how spatial and temporal attention interacts at a behavioral and neural level to optimize sensory information processing.

Project coordinator


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 232,113 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2019 - 36 Months

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