Remapping attentional priorities: differential contribution of superior parietal lobule and intraparietal sulcus

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Nov;17(11):2703-12. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl179. Epub 2007 Jan 30.


Seeking and selectively attending to significant extrapersonal stimuli in a dynamic environment requires the updating of an attentional priority map. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the role of posterior parietal cortex in such remappings of attentional priorities where the configuration, location, and significance of stimuli were systematically varied. Our data revealed a functional dissociation between 2 juxtaposed posterior parietal regions: one in the superior parietal lobule (SPL) and another in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). SPL was preferentially activated in all conditions where a spatial displacement occurred in the location of the target, the location of the distracter, or the focus of attention (exogenous and endogenous shifts of spatial attention). Shifts of the attentional focus also activated the IPS but principally if they were guided endogenously by internal rules of relevance rather than stimulus displacement per se (endogenous attention shifts). Only the IPS region was activated by transient resetting of target significance when the stimulus configuration changed but the attentional focus remained spatially fixed (feature attention shifts). These 2 components of the large-scale frontoparietal spatial attention network therefore have common and distinctive functions. In specific, the IPS component is more closely related to the compilation of an attentional priority map, including the endogenous recalibration of attentional weights. The SPL component, on the other hand, is more closely related to the modification of spatial coordinates linked to attentional priorities (spatial shifting). Collectively, these 2 areas allow posterior parietal cortex to dynamically encode extrapersonal events according to their spatial coordinates and valence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology*