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ERP, Attention, and Visual Perception: Identifying Preventable Misses in Optometric Eye Examinations

Faculty Supervisor:
Dwight Krehbiel
Year of Project Completion:
Mark Abrahams


When the eyes see a visual stimulus, the brain perceives it, regardless of whether or not a conscious response to the stimulus has taken place or not. “Preventable misses” occur when a person fails to consciously respond to a visual stimulus, when in fact this miss is due to a lack of attention, not a lack of visual acuity. The past attention research shows activation in ERP data in the attention centers in the cingulate cortex as well as occipitoparietal and occipitotemporal visual pathways. My hypotheses were that cuing the attention to a stimulus would result in greater activation of P100s and N100s in the Fz, Cz, Pz, and Oz regions of the brain, that attentional cuing would increase the performance on a mock optometric eye examination, and that negative attentional cuing would decrease the performance on a mock optometric eye examination. The ERP data showed a trend in activation for the Compatible condition at Oz electrode at the P1 component and an enhanced negative ERP in the N1 component at 140-180ms. The Fz region had a defined notch at N1 at 100s for the Compatible condition also. None of the ERP data was significant. The average conditional responses suffered from inconsistencies in the way that the computer labeled the condition titles.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.