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Synapse. 2001 Dec 15;42(4):266-72.

Changes in neuronal activation with increasing attention demand in healthy volunteers: an fMRI study.

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Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0559, USA.


Several lines of evidence suggest that structures involved in mediating attention differentially respond to increasing processing demand. Investigation of differences in neuronal activation, however, has been complicated by methodological inconsistencies and concomitant discrepancies in degree of difficulty and subject effort between disparate tasks. In this study, we utilized fMRI to compare neural activation patterns associated with two related attention tasks associated with different degrees of processing load while controlling for degree of performance difficulty. Healthy volunteers performed two continuous performance tasks, utilizing an identical pairs paradigm (CPT-IP) and a matched simple number recognition paradigm with degraded stimuli (CPT-DS) during a single fMRI scan. Degree of stimulus resolution degradation in the latter CPT was designed to equalize degree of performance difficulty between the two tasks. CPT-IP and CPT-DS were both associated with activation of frontal, limbic, subcortical, and sensory integratory structures. CPT-IP administration was associated with significantly greater activation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral posterior temporal cortex, bilateral putamen, and thalamus. This study demonstrates both that differing attention tasks are associated with a high degree of functional overlap and that increasing processing demand is associated with increased activation of specific portions of attentional networks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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