We examined whether sustained vs. transient spatial attention differentially affect the processing of electrical nociceptive stimuli. Cued nociceptive stimuli of a relevant intensity (low or high) on the left or right forearm required a foot pedal press. The cued side varied trial wise in the transient attention condition, while it remained constant during a series of trials in the sustained attention condition. The orienting phase preceding the nociceptive stimuli was examined by focusing on lateralized EEG activity. ERPs were computed to examine the influence of spatial attention on the processing of the nociceptive stimuli. Results for the orienting phase showed increased ipsilateral alpha and beta power above somatosensory areas in both the transient and the sustained attention conditions, which may reflect inhibition of ipsilateral and/or disinhibition of contralateral somatosensory areas. Cued nociceptive stimuli evoked a larger N130 than uncued stimuli, both in the transient and the sustained attention conditions. Support for increased efficiency of spatial attention in the sustained attention condition was obtained for the N180 and the P540 component. We concluded that spatial attention is more efficient in the case of sustained than in the case of transient spatial attention.
van der Lubbe, R. H. J., Blom, J. H. G., de Kleine, E., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2017). Comparing the effects of sustained and transient spatial attention on the orienting towards and the processing of electrical nociceptive stimuli. International journal of psychophysiology, 112, 9-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.11.015