3 years ago

Neural correlates underlying the attentional spotlight in human parietal cortex independent of task difficulty

Qi Chen, Ralph Weidner, Hang Zeng, Gereon R. Fink
Changes in the size of the attentional focus and task difficulty often co-vary. Nevertheless, the neural processes underlying the attentional spotlight process and task difficulty are likely to differ from each other. To differentiate between the two, we parametrically varied the size of the attentional focus in a novel behavioral paradigm while keeping visual processing difficulty either constant or not. A behavioral control experiment proved that the present behavioral paradigm could indeed effectively manipulate the size of the attentional focus per se, rather than affecting purely perceptual processes or surface processing. Imaging results showed that neural activity in a dorsal frontoparietal network, including right superior parietal cortex (SPL), was positively correlated with the size of the attentional spotlight, irrespective of whether task difficulty was constant or varied across different sizes of attentional focus. In contrast, neural activity in the ventral frontoparietal network, including the right inferior parietal cortex (IPL), was positively correlated with increasing task difficulty. Data suggest that sub-regions in parietal cortex are differentially involved in the attentional spotlight process and task difficulty: while SPL was involved in the attentional spotlight process independent of task difficulty, IPL was involved in the effect of task difficulty independent of the attentional spotlight process. Hum Brain Mapp 38:4996–5018, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/hbm.23709

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