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J Cogn Neurosci. 2002 Apr 1;14(3):389-401.

Supramodal effects of covert spatial orienting triggered by visual or tactile events.

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  • 1Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.


Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify brain areas involved in spatial attention and determine whether these operate unimodally or supramodally for vision and touch. On a trial-by-trial basis, a symbolic auditory cue indicated the most likely side for the subsequent target, thus directing covert attention to one side. A subsequent target appeared in vision or touch on the cued or uncued side. Invalidly cued trials (as compared with valid trials) activated the temporo-parietal junction and regions of inferior frontal cortex, regardless of target modality. These brain areas have been associated with multimodal spatial coding in physiological studies of the monkey brain and were linked to a change in the location that must be attended to in the present study. The intraparietal sulcus and superior frontal cortex were also activated in our task, again, regardless of target modality, but did not show any specificity for invalidly cued trials. These results identify a supramodal network for spatial attention and reveal differential activity for inferior circuits involving the temporo-parietal junction and inferior frontal cortex (specific to invalid trials) versus more superior intraparietal-frontal circuits (common to valid and invalid trials).

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