Isolating the internal in endogenous attention

Psychophysiology. 2010 Jul 1;47(4):739-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2010.00981.x. Epub 2010 Feb 8.


Neuroimaging studies have provided evidence that a bilateral frontal-parietal network is involved in voluntary attentional control. However, because those studies used instructive cue stimuli, some of the activity may have been due to interactions between cue processing and voluntary orienting. Here, we show that self-initiated voluntary orienting, in the absence of any cue stimulus, evokes activity in this frontal-parietal network. In contrast to the typical symmetric activity observed with cued attentional shifts, self-initiated shifts showed a hemispheric asymmetry consistent with studies of unilateral neglect patients. Specifically, the right hemisphere was equally involved in orienting to either visual field, whereas the left hemisphere was biased toward the contralateral field. Our data show that the asymmetry of attentional control can be revealed in neuroimaging of healthy subjects, when voluntary orienting is effectively isolated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult