Functional Similarity of Medial Superior Parietal Areas for Shift-Selective Attention Signals in Humans and Monkeys

Cereb Cortex. 2018 Jun 1;28(6):2085-2099. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx114.


We continually shift our attention between items in the visual environment. These attention shifts are usually based on task relevance (top-down) or the saliency of a sudden, unexpected stimulus (bottom-up), and are typically followed by goal-directed actions. It could be argued that any species that can covertly shift its focus of attention will rely on similar, evolutionarily conserved neural substrates for processing such shift-signals. To address this possibility, we performed comparative fMRI experiments in humans and monkeys, combining traditional, and novel, data-driven analytical approaches. Specifically, we examined correspondences between monkey and human brain areas activated during covert attention shifts. When "shift" events were compared with "stay" events, the medial (superior) parietal lobe (mSPL) and inferior parietal lobes showed similar shift sensitivities across species, whereas frontal activations were stronger in monkeys. To identify, in a data-driven manner, monkey regions that corresponded with human shift-selective SPL, we used a novel interspecies beta-correlation strategy whereby task-related beta-values were correlated across voxels or regions-of-interest in the 2 species. Monkey medial parietal areas V6/V6A most consistently correlated with shift-selective human mSPL. Our results indicate that both species recruit corresponding, evolutionarily conserved regions within the medial superior parietal lobe for shifting spatial attention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Young Adult