Top-down attentional control in spatially coincident stimuli enhances activity in both task-relevant and task-irrelevant regions of cortex

Kirk I. Erickson, Ruchika Shaurya Prakash, Jennifer S. Kim, Bradley P. Sutton, Stanley J. Colcombe, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Models of selective attention predict that focused attention to spatially contiguous stimuli may result in enhanced activity in areas of cortex specialized for processing task-relevant and task-irrelevant information. We examined this hypothesis by localizing color-sensitive areas (CSA) and word and letter sensitive areas of cortex and then examining modulation of these regions during performance of a modified version of the Stroop task in which target and distractors are spatially coincident. We report that only the incongruent condition with the highest cognitive demand showed increased activity in CSA relative to other conditions, indicating an attentional enhancement in target processing areas. We also found an enhancement of activity in one region sensitive to word/letter processing during the most cognitively demanding incongruent condition indicating greater processing of the distractor dimension. Correlations with performance revealed that top-down modulation during the task was critical for effective filtering of irrelevant information in conflict conditions. These results support predictions made by models of selective attention and suggest an important mechanism of top-down attentional control in spatially contiguous stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Volume197
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 30 2009

Keywords

  • Attentional control
  • Color-sensitive
  • Stroop task
  • Top-down modulation
  • Visual word form area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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