Selective inhibition of distracting input

Maryann P. Noonan, Ben M. Crittenden, Ole Jensen, Mark G. Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
554 Downloads (Pure)


We review a series of studies exploring distractor suppression. It is often assumed that preparatory distractor suppression is controlled via top-down mechanisms of attention akin to those that prepare brain areas for target enhancement. Here, we consider two alternative mechanisms: secondary inhibition and expectation suppression within a predictive coding framework. We draw on behavioural studies, evidence from neuroimaging and some animal studies.

We conclude that there is very limited evidence for selective top-down control of preparatory inhibition. By contrast, we argue that distractor suppression often relies secondary inhibition of non-target items (relatively non-selective inhibition) and on statistical regularities of the environment, learned through direct experience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018


  • distractor inhibition
  • predictive coding
  • alpha oscillations
  • attention
  • frontoparietal network


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