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Psychol Sci. 2005 Feb;16(2):114-22.

Coordination of voluntary and stimulus-driven attentional control in human cortex.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Visual attention may be voluntarily directed to particular locations or features (voluntary control), or it may be captured by salient stimuli, such as the abrupt appearance of a new perceptual object (stimulus-driven control). Most often, however, the deployment of attention is the result of a dynamic interplay between voluntary attentional control settings (e.g., based on prior knowledge about a target's location or color) and the degree to which stimuli in the visual scene match these voluntary control settings. Consequently, nontarget items in the scene that share a defining feature with the target of visual search can capture attention, a phenomenon termed contingent attentional capture. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that attentional capture by target-colored distractors is accompanied by increased cortical activity in corresponding regions of retinotopically organized visual cortex. Concurrent activation in the temporoparietal junction and ventral frontal cortex suggests that these regions coordinate voluntary and stimulus-driven attentional control settings to determine which stimuli effectively compete for attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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