The Dorsal Attention Network Mediates Orienting toward Behaviorally Relevant Stimuli in Spatial Neglect

  • Ptak R
  • Schnider A
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Experimental neurophysiology and functional neuroimaging have identified a dorsal attention network that encodes neural signals related to the behavioral significance of a stimulus. The core anatomical areas of this network are the frontal eye fields and the posterior parietal cortex, which are interconnected by the superior longitudinal fasciculus. Here, we show that damage or disconnection of this network predicts the extent to which task-relevant stimuli capture attention of human stroke patients with spatial neglect. Healthy volunteers, right-hemisphere-damaged control participants, and patients with left neglect reacted to peripheral targets defined by their color, which were preceded by a brief distracter stimulus. The position of the distracter and its relevance for the current trial were independently varied. In neglect patients with damage including the frontal eye fields and the superior longitudinal fasciculus, ipsilesional distracters impaired orienting into contralesional space regardless of their relevance for the current task. In contrast, patients with sparing of these regions were only impaired when distracters were task-relevant. These findings indicate that the dorsal attention network controls spatial orienting by modulating the saliency of distracter stimuli according to current action goals. Introduction

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  • R. Ptak

  • A. Schnider

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