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Neuroimage. 2003 May;19(1):180-9.

Anatomic dissociation of selective and suppressive processes in visual attention.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478-1048, USA.


Visual spatial attention is associated with activation in parietal regions as well as with modulation of visual activity in ventral occipital cortex. Within the parietal lobe, localisation of activity has been hampered by variation in individual anatomy. Using fMRI within regions of interest derived from individual functional maps, we examined the response of superior parietal lobule, intraparietal sulcus, and ventral occipital cortex in 11 normal adults as attention was directed to the left and right visual hemifields during bilateral visual stimulation. Activation in ventral occipital cortex was augmented contralateral to the attended hemifield (P < 0.006), while intraparietal activation was augmented ipsilaterally (P < 0.009), and superior parietal lobule showed no modulation of activity as a function of attended hemifield. These findings suggest that spatial enhancement of relevant stimuli in ventral occipital cortex is complemented by an intraparietal response associated with suppression of, or preparation of a reflexive shift of attention toward, irrelevant stimuli. The spatial attention system in superior parietal cortex, in contrast, may be driven to equal degrees by currently attended stimuli and by stimuli that are potential targets of attention.

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