The Neural Basis of Selective Attention: Cortical Sources and Targets of Attentional Modulation

Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2008;17(2):86-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00554.x.


Selective attention is an intrinsic component of perceptual representation in a visual system that is hierarchically organized. Modulatory signals originate in brain regions that represent behavioral goals; these signals specify which perceptual objects are to be represented by sensory neurons that are subject to contextual modulation. Attention can be deployed to spatial locations, features, or objects, and corresponding modulatory signals must be targeted within these domains. Open questions include how nonspatial perceptual domains are modulated by attention and how abstract goals are transformed into targeted modulatory signals.