Attentional style and the self-regulation of mode-specific attention: An electroencephalograhic study

Richard J. Davidson, Gary E. Schwartz, Larry P. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Assessed the cortical concomitants of selective mode-specific attention in Ss differing in the capacity for sustained attentional involvement. 10 high- and 10 low-scoring Ss on the Tellegen Absorption Scale were required to (a) simply attend to either a randomly flashing light or a randomly produced tapping sensation on the forearm during one block of trials and to (b) count the flashes and the taps during another trial block. The EEG was recorded from the left occipital and left sensorimotor regions and was filtered for alpha activity and quantified on line. Selective mode-specific attention produced reliable shifts in cortical patterning between kinesthetic and visual attention trials. During the counting condition, high-scoring Ss showed significantly greater specificity in cortical patterning than did low-scoring Ss. This difference was primarily a function of high-scoring Ss' ability to inhibit activation in the occipital region while counting taps. Findings suggest that high scores on the Absorption scale are associated with a flexible attentional style and that, given the requisite task demands, attentionally absorbed Ss show greater mode-specific cortical patterning during selective attention than do low scorers. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-621
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1976


  • capacity for sustained attentional involvement & attention to vs counting of light flashes vs arm taps, EEG concomitants of mode-specific selective attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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