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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2004 Dec;4(4):609-17.

Temporal kinetics of prefrontal modulation of the extrastriate cortex during visual attention.

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University of California, Berkeley, California 94729-3190, USA.


Single-unit, event-related potential (ERP), and neuroimaging studies have implicated the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in top-down control of attention and working memory. We conducted an experiment in patients with unilateral PFC damage (n = 8) to assess the temporal kinetics of PFC-extrastriate interactions during visual attention. Subjects alternated attention between the left and the right hemifields in successive runs while they detected target stimuli embedded in streams of repetitive task-irrelevant stimuli (standards). The design enabled us to examine tonic (spatial selection) and phasic (feature selection) PFC-extrastriate interactions. PFC damage impaired performance in the visual field contralateral to lesions, as manifested by both larger reaction times and error rates. Assessment of the extrastriate P1 ERP revealed that the PFC exerts a tonic (spatial selection) excitatory input to the ipsilateral extrastriate cortex as early as 100 msec post stimulus delivery. The PFC exerts a second phasic (feature selection) excitatory extrastriate modulation from 180 to 300 msec, as evidenced by reductions in selection negativity after damage. Finally, reductions of the N2 ERP to target stimuli supports the notion that the PFC exerts a third phasic (target selection) signal necessary for successful template matching during postselection analysis of target features. The results provide electrophysiological evidence of three distinct tonic and phasic PFC inputs to the extrastriate cortex in the initial few hundred milliseconds of stimulus processing. Damage to this network appears to underlie the pervasive deficits in attention observed in patients with prefrontal lesions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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