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Neuroimage. 2007 Nov 15;38(3):631-9. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Common regions of dorsal anterior cingulate and prefrontal-parietal cortices provide attentional control of distracters varying in emotionality and visibility.

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  • 1Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, 15K North Drive, Room 300C, MSC 2670, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670, USA.


Top-down attentional control is necessary to ensure successful task performance in the presence of distracters. Lateral prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex have been previously implicated in top-down attentional control. However, it is unclear whether these regions are engaged independent of distracter type or whether, as has been suggested for anterior cingulate cortex, different regions provide attentional control over emotional versus other forms of salient distracter. In the current task, subjects viewed targets that were preceded by distracters that varied in both emotionality and visibility. We found that behaviorally, the presence of preceding distracters significantly interfered with target judgment. At the neural level, increases in the emotional and visual saliency of distracters were both associated with increased activity in proximal regions of prefrontal, parietal and cingulate cortex. Moreover, a conjunction analysis indicated considerable overlap in the regions of prefrontal, parietal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex responding to distracters of increased emotionality and visibility.

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