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Benjamin J. Rosenau, Michael Esterman, Yu-Chin Chiu, Steven Yantis; A domain-Independent source of cognitive control for shifting attention in vision and working memory. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):164. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.164.
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Humans and other organisms operate within both a perceptual domain, which contains information about objects and events in the world, and a mnemonic domain, which contains information about past experiences as well as plans and goals. Both domains contain more information than the mind can process at one time; selection of task-relevant external (sensory) and internal (mnemonic) information is therefore required. External selection reflects the influence of top-down (goal-driven) selective attention. Internal selection makes task-relevant information stored in working memory (WM) available for use during ongoing cognitive operations. Using fMRI and a cognitive task that requires voluntary shifts of both external visual selective attention and internal WM selection, we show that similar functional brain networks mediate control of both domains. In a subset of the well-established frontoparietal attentional control network (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, intraparietal sulcus, superior parietal lobule), these acts of selection are indistinguishable using conventional univariate data analysis. However, using multivoxel pattern classification with a linear support vector machine, we show that shifts of internal and external attention evoke reliably distinct patterns of neural activity in these regions. Thus, while both internal and external acts of selection are mediated by the same domain-independent attentional control brain network, they are deployed through distinct domain-specific modes of brain activity.
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