Occipital-parietal interactions during shifts of exogenous visuospatial attention: trial-dependent changes of effective connectivity.Magn Reson Imaging. 2004 Dec; 22(10):1477-86.MR
We studied neural interactions between brain areas involved in exogenous (stimulus-driven) control of visuospatial attention. With event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated changes of connectivity during shifts of spatial attention from an attended location to a previously unattended target location. Using a 3-T scanner, fMRI data were acquired from three healthy volunteers. According to a central visual cue, participants directed endogenous spatial attention to the left or the right visual hemifield for blocks of 56 s. Peripheral visual targets were presented unpredictably in either the attended hemifield (valid trials, 80%) or in the unattended hemifield (invalid trials, 20%) and participants performed a two-alternative forced-choice discrimination task with the target, irrespective of cue validity. In accordance with previous results, we found that the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) mediates the shift of spatial attention toward stimuli presented at the unattended side (i.e., invalid trials). We critically studied the interaction between occipital areas responding to the visual stimuli and other brain regions in order to find regions functionally coupled with the occipital cortex during invalid trials. We found that the coupling between occipital areas processing visual stimuli and the TPJ selectively increased during invalid trials. Our results highlight how changes of connectivity between brain areas can describe attentional processes such as stimulus-driven shifts of spatial attention.