A series of computer simulations using variants of a formal model of attention (Melara and Algom, 2003) probed the role of rejection positivity (RP), a slow-wave electroencephalographic (EEG) component, in the inhibitory control of distraction. Behavioral and EEG data were recorded as participants performed auditory selective attention tasks. Simulations that modulated processes of distractor inhibition accounted well for reaction-time (RT) performance, whereas those that modulated target excitation did not. A model that incorporated RP from actual EEG recordings in estimating distractor inhibition was superior in predicting changes in RT as a function of distractor salience across conditions. A model that additionally incorporated momentary fluctuations in EEG as the source of trial-to-trial variation in performance precisely predicted individual RTs within each condition. The results lend support to the linking proposition that RP controls the speed of responding to targets through the inhibitory control of distractors.
Chen, S. & Melara, R. D. (2014). Rejection positivity predicts trial-to-trial reaction times in an auditory selective attention task: a computational analysis of inhibitory control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 585. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00585.