Thesis defense Marjolein van der Waal (Donders series 388)
26 November 2019
Promotors: prof. dr. P. Desain, prof. dr. L. Fasotti, dr. J. Farquhar
Out of the corner of your eye - Electrophysiology of covert visual spatial attention in healthy aging, prism adaptation and neglect
Spatial attention is the cognitive process of directing attention to a specific location in space, an act that is associated with a number of electrophysiological correlates. In this thesis, we studied the P3 component of the event-related potential (ERP), of which the amplitude increases with attention, and lateralized oscillations in the alpha frequency band (8-14 Hz), of which the topography depends on the direction of attention. The overarching goal of all studies was to investigate the feasibility of EEG-based applications for the diagnosis and treatment of neglect, a disorder of spatial attention in which patients ignore one side (usually the left side) of the space surrounding them.
The conclusions from this thesis emphasize the importance of including participants from a wide age range in cognition research, as great changes may occur throughout healthy adulthood. In addition, we found support for the feasibility of EEG-based applications for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic deficits in spatial attention based on the P3 component of the ERP. In contrast, lateralization of alpha band oscillations seems a less promising neural signature for diagnostic and rehabilitative systems for neglect.