In this paper we introduce the idea of explaining responses, in one cortical area, in terms of an interaction between the influence of another area and some experimental (sensory or task-related) parameter. We refer to these effects as psychophysiological interactions and relate them to interactions based solely on experimental factors (i.e., psychological interactions), in factorial designs, and interactions among neurophysiological measurements (i.e., physiological interactions). We have framed psychophysiological interactions in terms of functional integration by noting that the degree to which the activity in one area can be predicted, on the basis of activity in another, corresponds to the contribution of the second to the first, where this contribution can be related to effective connectivity. A psychophysiological interaction means that the contribution of one area to another changes significantly with the experimental or psychological context. Alternatively these interactions can be thought of as a contribution-dependent change in regional responses to an experimental or psychological factor. In other words the contribution can be thought of as modulating the responses elicited by a particular stimulus or psychological process. The potential importance of this approach lies in (i) conferring a degree of functional specificity on this aspect of effective connectivity and (ii) providing a model of modulation, where the contribution from a distal area can be considered to modulate responses to the psychological or stimulus-specific factor defining the interaction. Although distinct in neurobiological terms, these are equivalent perspectives on the same underlying interaction. We illustrate these points using a functional magnetic resonance imaging study of attention to visual motion and a position emission tomography study of visual priming. We focus on interactions among extrastriate, inferotemporal, and posterior parietal regions during visual processing, under different attentional and perceptual conditions.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press.