Increased blood flow in the basal ganglia when using cues to direct attention

Exp Brain Res. 1999 Nov;129(2):241-6. doi: 10.1007/s002210050894.


We used positron emission tomography (PET) in ten subjects to study the brain regions involved in voluntary shifts of attention. For six scans, subjects performed a visual target detection task in which the location of the target was indicated in advance on some proportion of trials by the appearance of an arrow cue at fixation. The informative cues were successful in speeding reaction time to the target. Blood flow in the left putamen was correlated with the proportion of informative cues provided within a scan. We discuss this finding in terms of three possible interpretations: attentional shifts, response inhibition, and motor preparation related to the use of the right hand to respond. Blood flow in cortical regions commonly associated with attention was not related to cue ratio, a finding that may reflect automatization of the processes involved in interpreting and using the cues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Putamen / blood supply*
  • Putamen / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Visual Perception / physiology*