The Event-Related Brain Potential as an Index of Attention Allocation in Complex Displays

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The advantages of employing the event-related brain potential (ERP) in the assessment of allocation of attention in dynamic environments are discussed. Three experiments are presented in which the P300 component of the ERP is demonstrated to be a useful index of subjects' locus of attention. The first two experiments were concerned with the allocation of atttention during discrete and continuous visual monitoring tasks. The results indicated that a P300 was elicited only by stimuli to which the subject had to attend in order to perform successfully the task. The third experiment was conducted to assess the sensitivity of P300 to the manner in which attention is allocated to different aspects of a display during the performance of a 3-dimensional target acquistion task. The amplitude of the P300 was found to reflect differences between two levels of workload, as well as the task relevance of the stimuli. The results of the experiments are discussed in terms of their utility in the evaluation of the design of man-machine systems as well as in the study of the allocation of attention in operational environments.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, v. 24, issue 1, p. 297-301