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Anat Rec B New Anat. 2004 Nov;281(1):21-36.

Anatomy of attentional networks.

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MRI Unit, Department of Psychaiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA.


Attention is a central theme in psychological science. As with other biological systems, attention has a distinct anatomy that carries out basic psychological functions. Disparate attentional networks correlate with discrete neural circuitry and can be influenced by specific brain injuries, states, and drugs. Accordingly, thinking about attention as an organ system is advantageous for understanding the details of this complex cognitive process. In the context of an influential model of attention, this article introduces the broad notion of attention, then addresses its prominent characteristics, mechanisms, and theories. The presentation emphasizes the role of recent neuroimaging data in outlining the functional neuroanatomy subserving distinct attentional networks. A discussion of pertinent results connects attentional networks with self-regulation, development, and rehabilitation training.

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