Fractionating attentional control using event-related fMRI

Cereb Cortex. 2006 Dec;16(12):1679-89. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhj116. Epub 2006 Jan 25.


Despite numerous functional neuroimaging and lesion studies of human executive function, the precise neuroanatomical correlates of specific components of attentional control remain controversial. Using a novel approach that focused upon volunteer behavior rather than experimental manipulations, specific components of attentional shifting were fractionated, and their neural correlates differentiated using event-related fMRI. The results demonstrate that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex is involved in switching attention "between" stimulus dimensions, whereas the posterior parietal cortex mediates changes in stimulus-response mapping. Furthermore, reversals based on negative feedback activated the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, whereas positive feedback modulated activity in the medial orbital frontal cortex. Finally, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was active throughout solution search. These findings support the hypothesis that lateral prefrontal, orbital, and parietal areas form a supervisory network that controls the focus of attention and suggests that these regions can be fractionated in terms of their specific contributions.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation