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Exp Brain Res. 2010 Oct;206(2):197-208. doi: 10.1007/s00221-010-2326-z. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

Top-down and bottom-up attentional guidance: investigating the role of the dorsal and ventral parietal cortices.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA.


Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that the superior parietal lobule (SPL) of the human cortex mediates goal-directed attentional orienting, while the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) mediates stimulus-driven attentional orienting. Here, we investigated these brain-behavior correspondences by examining the performance of patients with an attentional deficit following a right hemisphere lesion. Patients completed two tasks, one sensitive to stimulus-driven attentional orienting and the other to goal-directed attentional orienting. Based on the behavioral profiles obtained on each task, patients were assigned to different groups and their lesion overlap explored. Patients who exhibited difficulties with goal-directed attentional orienting and showed concurrent "hyper-capture" presented with lesion overlap centered over superior portions of the parietal lobule with spared inferior portions of the parietal lobule. Patients who performed normally on the goal-directed orienting task, while remaining abnormally immune to attentional capture, presented with lesion overlap centered over the inferior portions of the parietal lobule but spared superior parietal lobule. The findings from this study clearly suggest that (a) SPL and TPJ are anatomical regions that are recruited for the purposes of top-down and bottom-up orienting, respectively, and that damage to SPL and TPJ leads to disorders of top-down and bottom-up orienting, and (b) albeit dissociable, top-down and bottom-up orienting (and, by extension, SPL and TPJ) are not entirely independent mechanisms.

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