Intra-modal and cross-modal spatial attention to auditory and visual stimuli. An event-related brain potential study

Wolfgang A. Teder-Sälejärvi*, Thomas F. Münte, Franz Jürgen Sperlich, Steven A. Hillyard

*Corresponding author for this work
82 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated cross-modal interactions in spatial attention by means of recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Noise bursts and light flashes were presented in random order to both left and right field locations separated by 60°in free-field. One group of subjects was instructed to attend selectively to the noise bursts (attend-auditory group), and a second group attended only to the flashes (attend-visual group). On different runs attention was directed to either the right or left field stimuli of the designated modality. In the attend-auditory group, noise bursts at the attended location elicited a broad, biphasic negativity (Nd) beginning at 70 ms. The cross-modal spatial attention effect on the auditory ERPs in the attend-visual group was very similar in morphology, but the Nd was reduced in amplitude relative to the intra-modal effect. In the attend- visual group, flashes at the attended location elicited enhanced early (100- 200 ms) and late (200-350 ms) ERP components relative to unattended-location flashes. The cross-modal effect in the attend-auditory group included small but significant enhancements of early components of the visual ERPs. It was concluded that spatial attention has a multi-modal organization such that the processing of stimuli at attended locations is facilitated at an early, sensory level, even for stimuli of an unattended modality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)327-343
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 25.10.1999

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


Dive into the research topics of 'Intra-modal and cross-modal spatial attention to auditory and visual stimuli. An event-related brain potential study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this