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Prog Neurobiol. 2015 Sep;132:59-80. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2015.06.006. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

Visual attention: Linking prefrontal sources to neuronal and behavioral correlates.

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Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, United States.
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States; Lumos Labs, San Francisco, CA, United States.
School of Cognitive Sciences (SCS), Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), Tehran, Iran.
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, United States. Electronic address:


Attention is a means of flexibly selecting and enhancing a subset of sensory input based on the current behavioral goals. Numerous signatures of attention have been identified throughout the brain, and now experimenters are seeking to determine which of these signatures are causally related to the behavioral benefits of attention, and the source of these modulations within the brain. Here, we review the neural signatures of attention throughout the brain, their theoretical benefits for visual processing, and their experimental correlations with behavioral performance. We discuss the importance of measuring cue benefits as a way to distinguish between impairments on an attention task, which may instead be visual or motor impairments, and true attentional deficits. We examine evidence for various areas proposed as sources of attentional modulation within the brain, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex. Lastly, we look at studies that aim to link sources of attention to its neuronal signatures elsewhere in the brain.


Attention deficit; Attention signatures; Neglect; Prefrontal cortex; Selective attention; Visuospatial attention

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