The human basal ganglia modulate frontal-posterior connectivity during attention shifting

J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 21;30(29):9910-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1111-10.2010.


Current models of flexible cognitive control emphasize the role of the prefrontal cortex. This region has been shown to control attention by biasing information processing in favor of task-relevant representations. However, the prefrontal cortex does not act in isolation. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging combined with nonlinear dynamic causal modeling to demonstrate that the basal ganglia play a role in modulating the top-down influence of the prefrontal cortex on visual processing in humans. Specifically, our results reveal that connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and stimulus-specific visual association areas depends on activity in the ventral striatopallidum, elicited by salient events leading to shifts in attention. These data integrate disparate literatures on top-down control by the prefrontal cortex and selective gating by the basal ganglia and highlight the importance of the basal ganglia for high-level cognitive control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult