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Michael Jigo, Taosheng Liu; Attentional priority signals in human frontoparietal cortex correlate with performance in a feature-based attention task. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):694. doi: 10.1167/16.12.694.
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It is generally accepted that top-down visual attention selects goal-relevant stimuli to facilitate task performance. Hence, fluctuations in endogenous attentional control should influence performance in tasks relying on visual selection. Previous research has implicated a dorsal frontoparietal network in the maintenance of attentional priority for visual features. However, the relationship between the quality of these neural representations and task performance is not well understood. Using two speed detection tasks in an fMRI experiment, we tested whether the quality of an attentional priority signal, i.e., the neural representation of an attended direction of motion, correlated with task performance. In the attention task, subjects were cued to attend to one of two overlapping dot fields, one that rotated in a clockwise direction and another that rotated in a counter-clockwise direction. Subjects were instructed to report the presence or absence of a brief speedup in the cued direction. In the baseline task, subjects similarly reported the presence or absence of a speedup, but they only viewed a single dot field that rotated in either direction. The patterns of neural activity for correct and incorrect trials in each motion direction in the attention task were obtained as an index of the attentional priority signal. To get a measure of their respective quality, these priority signals were compared to the neural patterns obtained from the baseline task, which served as the benchmark. We found that attentional priority signals in parietal and prefrontal regions were more similar to the benchmark for correct than incorrect trials. This effect was less marked in early visual areas. These results revealed neural correlates of task performance for feature-based attention and suggest that parietal and prefrontal regions maintain attentional priority that facilitates the successful selection of relevant visual features.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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