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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Oct 21;7:685. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00685. eCollection 2013.

Attention and predictions: control of spatial attention beyond the endogenous-exogenous dichotomy.

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1
1Neuroimaging Laboratory, Fondazione Santa Lucia, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS) Rome, Italy.

Abstract

The mechanisms of attention control have been extensively studied with a variety of methodologies in animals and in humans. Human studies using non-invasive imaging techniques highlighted a remarkable difference between the pattern of responses in dorsal fronto-parietal regions vs. ventral fronto-parietal (vFP) regions, primarily lateralized to the right hemisphere. Initially, this distinction at the neuro-physiological level has been related to the distinction between cognitive processes associated with strategic/endogenous vs. stimulus-driven/exogenous of attention control. Nonetheless, quite soon it has become evident that, in almost any situation, attention control entails a complex combination of factors related to both the current sensory input and endogenous aspects associated with the experimental context. Here, we review several of these aspects first discussing the joint contribution of endogenous and stimulus-driven factors during spatial orienting in complex environments and, then, turning to the role of expectations and predictions in spatial re-orienting. We emphasize that strategic factors play a pivotal role for the activation of the ventral system during stimulus-driven control, and that the dorsal system makes use of stimulus-driven signals for top-down control. We conclude that both the dorsal and the vFP networks integrate endogenous and exogenous signals during spatial attention control and that future investigations should manipulate both these factors concurrently, so as to reveal to full extent of these interactions.

KEYWORDS:

endogenous; exogenous; parietal cortex; prediction; salience

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