Functional localization of the system for visuospatial attention using positron emission tomography

Brain. 1997 Mar;120 ( Pt 3):515-33. doi: 10.1093/brain/120.3.515.


PET was used to image the neural system underlying visuospatial attention. Analysis of data at both the group and individual-subject level provided anatomical resolution superior to that described to date. Six right-handed male subjects were selected from a pilot behavioural study in which behavioural responses and eye movements were recorded. The attention tasks involved covert shifts of attention, where peripheral cues indicated the location of subsequent target stimuli to be discriminated. One attention condition emphasized reflexive aspects of spatial orientation, while the other required controlled shifts of attention. PET activations agreed closely with the cortical regions recently proposed to form the core of a neural network for spatial attention. The two attention tasks evoked largely overlapping patterns of neural activation, supporting the existence of a general neural system for visuospatial attention with regional functional specialization. Specifically, neocortical activations were observed in the right anterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann area 24), in the intraparietal sulcus of right posterior parietal cortex, and in the mesial and lateral premotor cortices (Brodmann area 6).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*