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Nat Neurosci. 2000 Mar;3(3):284-91.

The neural mechanisms of top-down attentional control.

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Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, One Shields Ave., University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Selective visual attention involves dynamic interplay between attentional control systems and sensory brain structures. We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a cued spatial-attention task to dissociate brain activity related to attentional control from that related to selective processing of target stimuli. Distinct networks were engaged by attention-directing cues versus subsequent targets. Superior frontal, inferior parietal and superior temporal cortex were selectively activated by cues, indicating that these structures are part of a network for voluntary attentional control. This control biased activity in multiple visual cortical areas, resulting in selective sensory processing of relevant visual targets.

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