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J Neurosci. 2008 Dec 17;28(51):13786-92. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1026-08.2008.

Attention enhances the neural processing of relevant features and suppresses the processing of irrelevant features in humans: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study of the Stroop task.

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  • 1Psychology Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


We present a functional MRI experiment investigating the neural basis of feature-based attention in humans using the Stroop task. Cortical areas specifically involved in color processing and word reading were first identified in individual participants using independent tests. These areas were then probed during the Stroop task (in which participants must selectively attend to the font color of a word while ignoring the word itself). We found that activation in functionally defined color areas increased during the task relative to a neutral color-naming task while activation in functionally defined word areas decreased. These results are consistent with a biased competition model of feature-based attention in which the processing of attended features is enhanced and the processing of ignored features is suppressed.

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