Traditionally, electroencephalographic (EEG) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) research on visual attentional processing attempted to account for mental processes in conceptual terms without reference to the way in which they were physically realized by the anatomical structures and physiological processes of the human brain. The brain science level of analysis, in contrast, attempted to explain the brain as an information processing system and to explain mental events in terms of brain processes. Somehow overcoming the separation between the two abovementioned levels of analysis, the cognitive neuroscience level considered how information was represented and processed in the brain. Neurofunctional processing takes place in a fraction of a second. Hence, the very high time resolution and the reliable sensitivity of EEG and ERPs in detecting fast functional changes in brain activity provided advantages over hemodynamic imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), as well as over behavioral measures. However, volume conduction and lack of three-dimensionality limited applications of EEG and ERPs per se more than hemodynamic techniques for revealing locations in which brain processing occurs. These limits could only be overcome by subtraction methods for isolating attentional effects that might endure over time in EEG and may be riding even over several different ERP components, and by intracerebral single and distributed electric source analyses as well as the combining of these signals with high-spatial resolution hemodynamic signals (fMRI), both in healthy individuals and clinical patients. In my view, the articles of the Special Issue concerned with “ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing” of the present journal Brain Sciences provide very good examples of all these levels of analysis.
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