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Suliann Ben Hamed; The prefrontal attentional spotlight in time and space. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):5b. https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.5b.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent accumulating evidence challenges the traditional view of attention as a continuously active spotlight over which we have direct voluntary control, suggesting instead a rhythmic operation. I will present monkey electrophysiological data reconciling these two views. I will apply machine learning methods to reconstruct, at high spatial and temporal resolution, the spatial attentional spotlight from monkey prefrontal neuronal activity. I will first describe behavioral and neuronal evidence for distinct spatial filtering mechanisms, the attentional spotlight serving to filter in task relevant information while at the same time filtering out task irrelevant information. I will then provide evidence for rhythmic spatial attention exploration by this prefrontal attentional spotlight in the alpha (7–12Hz) frequency range. I will discuss this rhythmic exploration of space both from the perspective of sensory encoding and behavioral trial outcome, when processing either task relevant or task irrelevant information. While these oscillations are task-independent, I will describe how their spatial unfoldment flexibly adjusts to the ongoing behavioral demands. I will conclude by bridging the gap between this alpha rhythmic exploration by the attentional spotlight and previous reports on a contribution of long-range theta oscillations in attentional exploration and I will propose a novel integrated account of a dynamic attentional spotlight.
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