Functional connectivity of parietal cortex during temporal selective attention

Cortex. 2015 Apr;65:195-207. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2015.01.015. Epub 2015 Feb 9.


Perception of natural experiences requires allocation of attention towards features, objects, and events that are moving and changing over time. This allocation of attention is controlled by large-scale brain networks that, when damaged, cause widespread cognitive deficits. In particular, damage to ventral parietal cortex (right lateralized TPJ, STS, supramarginal and angular gyri) is associated with failures to selectively attend to and isolate features embedded within rapidly changing visual sequences (Battelli, Pascual-Leone, & Cavanagh, 2007; Husain, Shapiro, Martin, & Kennard, 1997). In this study, we used fMRI to investigate the neural activity and functional connectivity of intact parietal cortex while typical subjects judged the relative onsets and offsets of rapidly flickering tokens (a phase discrimination task in which right parietal patients are impaired). We found two regions in parietal cortex correlated with task performance: a bilateral posterior TPJ (pTPJ) and an anterior right-lateralized TPJ (R aTPJ). Both regions were deactivated when subjects engaged in the task but showed different patterns of functional connectivity. The bilateral pTPJ was strongly connected to nodes within the default mode network (DMN) and the R aTPJ was connected to the attention network. Accurate phase discriminations were associated with increased functional correlations between sensory cortex (hMT+) and the bilateral pTPJ, whereas accuracy on a control task was associated with yoked activity in the hMT+ and the R aTPJ. We conclude that temporal selective attention is particularly sensitive for revealing information pathways between sensory and core cognitive control networks that, when damaged, can lead to nonspatial attention impairments in right parietal stroke patients.

Keywords: Feature-based attention; Frontoparietal cortex; Temporal parietal junction; Vision; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Young Adult