Modulations among the alerting, orienting and executive control networks.Exp Brain Res. 2005 Nov; 167(1):27-37.EB
This paper reports a series of experiments that were carried out in order to study the attentional system. Three networks make up this system, and each of them specializes in particular processes. The executive control network specializes in control processes, such as conflict resolution or detection of errors; the orienting network directs the processing system to the source of input and enhances its processing; the alerting network prepares the system for a fast response by maintaining an adequate level of activation in the cognitive system. Recently, Fan and collaborators [J Cogn Neurosci 14(3):340-347, 2002] designed a task to measure the efficiency of each network. We modified Fan's task to test the influences among the networks. We found that the executive control network is inhibited by the alerting network, whereas the orienting network raises the efficiency of the executive control network (Experiment 1). We also found that the alerting network influences the orienting network by speeding up its time course function (Experiment 2). Results were replicated in a third experiment, proving the effects to be stable over time, participants and experimental context, and to be potentially important as a tool for neuropsychological assessment.