Article

Attentional control: temporal relationships within the fronto-parietal network.

Department of Psychology, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20015, United States.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.45). 02/2012; 50(6):1202-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.02.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Selective attention to particular aspects of incoming sensory information is enabled by a network of neural areas that includes frontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and, in the visual domain, visual sensory regions. Although progress has been made in understanding the relative contribution of these different regions to the process of visual attentional selection, primarily through studies using neuroimaging, rather little is known about the temporal relationships between these disparate regions. To examine this, participants viewed two rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) streams of letters positioned to the left and right of fixation point. Before each run, attention was directed to either the left or the right stream. Occasionally, a digit appeared within the attended stream indicating whether attention was to be maintained within the same stream ('hold' condition) or to be shifted to the previously ignored stream ('shift' condition). By titrating the temporal parameters of the time taken to shift attention for each participant using a fine-grained psychophysics paradigm, we measured event-related potentials time-locked to the initiation of spatial shifts of attention. The results revealed that shifts of attention were evident earlier in the response recorded over frontal than over parietal electrodes and, importantly, that the early activity over frontal electrodes was associated with a successful shift of attention. We conclude that frontal areas are engaged early for the purpose of executing an attentional shift, likely triggering a cascade through the fronto-parietal network ultimately, resulting in the attentional modulation of sensory events in posterior cortices.

0 Bookmarks
 · 
102 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Alcoholic patients with multiple detoxifications/relapses show cognitive and emotional deficits. We performed structural magnetic resonance imaging and examined performance on a cognitive flexibility task (intra-extradimensional set shift and reversal; IED). We also presented subjects with fearful, disgust and anger facial emotional expressions. Participants were abstaining, multiply detoxified (MDTx; n = 12) or singly detoxified patients (SDTx; n = 17) and social drinker controls (n = 31). Alcoholic patients were less able than controls to change their behavior in accordance with the changing of the rules in the IED and they were less accurate in recognizing fearful expressions in particular. They also showed lower gray matter volume compared with controls in frontal brain areas, including inferior frontal cortex (IFC) and insula that mediate emotional processing, inferior parietal lobule and medial frontal cortex that mediate attentional and motor planning processes, respectively. Impairments in performance and some of the regional decreases in gray matter were greater in MDTx. Gray matter volume in IFC in patients was negatively correlated with the number of detoxifications, whereas inferior parietal lobule was negatively correlated with the control over drinking score (impaired control over drinking questionnaire). Performance in IED was also negatively correlated with gray matter volume in IFC/BA47, whereas recognition of fearful faces was positively correlated with the IFC gray matter. Repeated episodes of detoxification from alcohol, related to severity of dependency, are coupled with altered brain structure in areas of emotional regulation, attention and motor planning. Such changes may confer increased inability to switch behavior according to environmental demands and social incompetence, contributing to relapse.
    Addiction Biology 09/2014; · 5.93 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent research has shown that mind wandering recruits executive resources away from the external task towards inner thoughts. No studies however have determined whether executive functions are drawn away in a unitary manner during mind wandering episodes, or whether there is variation in specific functions impacted. Accordingly, we examined whether mind wandering differentially modulates three core executive functions—response inhibition, updating of working memory, and mental set shifting. In three experiments, participants performed one of these three executive function tasks and reported their attentional state as either on-task or mind wandering at random intervals. We found that mind wandering led to poorer performance in the response inhibition and working memory tasks, but not the set-shifting task. These findings suggest that mind wandering does not recruit executive functions in a monolithic manner. Rather, it appears to selectively engage certain executive functions, which may reflect the adaptive maintenance of ongoing task performance.
    Consciousness and Cognition 05/2014; 26:51–63. · 2.31 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present experiment was designed to test if sustained attention directed to the spontaneous sensations of the right or left thumb in the absence of any external stimuli is able to activate corresponding somatosensory brain areas. After verifying in 34 healthy volunteers that external touch stimuli to either thumb effectively activate brain contralateral somatosensory areas, and after subtracting attention mechanisms employed in both touch and spontaneous-sensation conditions, fMRI evidence was obtained that the primary somatosensory cortex (specifically left BA 3a/3b) becomes active when an individual is required to attend to the spontaneous sensations of either thumb in the absence of external stimuli. In addition, the left superior parietal cortex, anterior cingulate gyrus, insula, motor and premotor cortex, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, Broca's area, and occipital cortices were activated. Moreover, attention to spontaneous-sensations revealed an increased connectivity between BA 3a/3b, superior frontal gyrus (BA 9) and anterior cingulate cortex (BA 32), probably allowing top-down activations of primary somatosensory cortex. We conclude that specific primary somatosensory areas in conjunction with other left parieto-frontal areas are involved in processing proprioceptive and interoceptive bodily information that underlies own body-representations and that these networks and cognitive functions can be modulated by top-down attentional processes.
    Brain and Cognition 04/2014; 87C:86-96. · 2.82 Impact Factor

Full-text

Download
36 Downloads
Available from
Jun 1, 2014