In the present study, we examined whether the direction of attention while anticipating intracutaneous electrical stimuli on the left or right forearm occurs within an internal somatotopic or an external body-based reference frame. Participants placed their hands on a table in front of them in a normal position or in a crossed-hands position. A symbolic cue with a validity of 80% instructed participants to attend to either the left or the right side, which varied from trial to trial. Crossing the hands induces a conflict of internal and external reference frames which allows to determine the dominating reference frame(s). Analyses of the electroencephalogram (EEG) during the orienting phase revealed that crossing the arms did not induce a reversal of neural activity over central sites as a late direction attention-related positivity and increased ipsilateral alpha power over occipital and central sites was observed in both conditions. Hand position influenced the processing of the electrical stimuli as no effect of cue validity was observed on the P3a component in the crossed-hands position. Our results indicate that endogenous spatial attention to intracutaneous electrical stimuli primarily occurs within an external reference frame.
- Crossed hands
- Intracutaneous electrical stimuli
- Reference frame
- Spatial attention