Orienting and maintenance of spatial attention in audition and vision: multimodal and modality-specific brain activations

Brain Struct Funct. 2007 Sep;212(2):181-94. doi: 10.1007/s00429-007-0152-2. Epub 2007 Jul 18.


We studied orienting and maintenance of spatial attention in audition and vision. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in nine healthy subjects revealed activations in the same superior and inferior parietal, and posterior prefrontal areas in the auditory and visual orienting tasks when these tasks were compared with the corresponding maintenance tasks. Attention-related activations in the thalamus and cerebellum were observed during the auditory orienting and maintenance tasks and during the visual orienting task. In addition to the supratemporal auditory cortices, auditory orienting, and maintenance produced stronger activity than the respective visual tasks in the inferior parietal and prefrontal cortices, whereas only the occipital visual cortex and the superior parietal cortex showed stronger activity during the visual tasks than during the auditory tasks. Differences between the brain networks involved in auditory and visual spatial attention could be, for example, due to different encoding of auditory and visual spatial information or differences in stimulus-driven (bottom-up triggered) and voluntary (top-down controlled) attention between the auditory and visual modalities, or both.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception*
  • Thalamus / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Perception*