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James Brissenden, David Osher, Emily Levin, Mark Halko, David Somers; Visuospatial attentional selectivity within the cerebellum. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):524. doi: 10.1167/17.10.524.
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The cerebellum is traditionally associated with fine motor control; however, there is growing evidence linking the cerebellum to cognitive function (e.g., Stoodley et al., 2012). Brissenden et al. (2016) showed that portions of the cerebellum, which exhibit functional connectivity with the cortical dorsal attention network (DAN), are recruited by visual working memory and visual attention tasks in a load-dependent manner. Here, we demonstrate that these same DAN-coupled cerebellar regions contain visuospatial representations that code for the location of attentional deployment. Participants (N=9) performed a lateralized VWM change detection paradigm with oriented bar stimuli in an fMRI scanner. Prior to each block, participants were cued to covertly attend either the left or right visual hemifield. Cerebellar regions-of-interest (ROIs) were defined via a resting-state functional connectivity analysis using cortical networks (Yeo et al., 2011) as seeds. To investigate whether cerebellar network ROIs are sensitive to the allocation of spatial attention, we trained support vector machines using a nested cross-validation procedure to discriminate between the two possible locations of attentional deployment. Due to literature implicating the cerebellum in oculomotor processes, we also examined whether the same cerebellar fMRI data contain information about eye movements using linear support vector regression. Permutation tests revealed that the cerebellar DAN ROI was only the cerebellar region that could decode the attended hemifield above chance (p = 0.014, corrected). Additionally, visuospatial classification performance in the cerebellar DAN ROI matched that of frontal nodes of the DAN [F(2,18) = 0.49, p = 0.62]. Cerebellar DAN BOLD activity was shown to contain no predictive information about eye movements or eye position. These findings provide further evidence for the active participation of cerebellar regions in attentional brain networks, and suggest the cerebellum may be more actively involved in the orienting of attention than previously believed.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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