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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct;17(10):2468-77. Epub 2007 Jan 4.

Spatio-temporal analysis of feature-based attention.

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Department of Neurology II and Center for Advanced Imaging, University of Magdeburg, Leipzigerstrasse 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


The cortical mechanisms of feature-selective attention to color and motion cues were studied in humans using combined electrophysiological, magnetoencephalographic, and hemodynamic (functional magnetic resonance imaging) measures of brain activity. Subjects viewed a display of random dots that periodically either changed color or moved coherently. When attention was directed to the color change it elicited enhanced neural activity in visual area V4v, previously shown to be specialized for processing color information. In contrast, when dot movement was attended it produced enhanced activity in the motion-specialized area human MT. Parallel recordings of event-related electrophysiological and magnetoencephalographic responses indicated that the attention-related facilitation of neural activity in these specialized cortical areas occurred rapidly, beginning as early as 90-120 ms after stimulus onset. We conclude that selection of an entire feature dimension (motion or color) boosts neural activity in its specialized cortical module much more rapidly than does selection of one feature value from another (e.g., one color from another), as reported in previous electrophysiological studies. By combining methods with high spatial and temporal resolution it is possible to analyze the precise time course of feature-selective processing in specialized cortical areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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