The right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) is widely considered as part of a network that reorients attention to task-relevant, but currently unattended stimuli (Corbetta and Shulman, 2002). Despite the prevalence of this theory in cognitive neuroscience, there is little direct evidence for the principal hypothesis that TPJ sends an early reorientation signal that "circuit breaks" attentional processing in regions of the dorsal attentional network (e.g., the frontal eye fields) or is completely right lateralized during attentional processing. In this review, we examine both functional neuroimaging work on TPJ in the attentional literature as well as anatomical findings. We first critically evaluate the idea that TPJ reorients attention and is right lateralized; we then suggest that TPJ signals might rather reflect post-perceptual processes involved in contextual updating and adjustments of top-down expectations; and then finally discuss how these ideas relate to the electrophysiological (P300) literature, and to TPJ findings in other cognitive and social domains. We conclude that while much work is needed to define the computational functions of regions encapsulated as TPJ, there is now substantial evidence that it is not specialized for stimulus-driven attentional reorienting.
Keywords: Attention; Inferior parietal cortex; Temporo-parietal junction; Theory of mind; Ventral attentional control network.
Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.