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Cereb Cortex. 2005 Oct;15(10):1469-84. Epub 2005 Feb 2.

Attentional functions of parietal and frontal cortex.

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  • 1MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK.


A model of normal attentional function, based on the concept of competitive parallel processing, is used to compare attentional deficits following parietal and frontal lobe lesions. Measurements are obtained for visual processing speed, capacity of visual short-term memory (VSTM), spatial bias (bias to left or right hemifield) and top-down control (selective attention based on task relevance). The results show important differences, but also surprising similarities, in parietal and frontal lobe patients. For processing speed and VSTM, deficits are selectively associated with parietal lesions, in particular lesions of the temporoparietal junction. We discuss explanations based on either grey matter or white matter lesions. In striking contrast, measures of attentional weighting (spatial bias and top-down control) are predicted by simple lesion volume. We suggest that attentional weights reflect competition between broadly distributed object representations. Parietal and frontal mechanisms work together, both in weighting by location and weighting by task context.

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