Mechanisms of spatial attention control in frontal and parietal cortex

Sara M. Szczepanski, Christina S. Konen, Sabine Kastner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

261 Scopus citations


Theories of spatial attentional control have been largely based upon studies of patients suffering from visuospatial neglect, resulting from circumscribed lesions of frontal and posterior parietal cortex. In the intact brain, the control of spatial attention has been related to a distributed frontoparietal attention network. Little is known about the nature of the control mechanisms exerted by this network. Here, we used a novel region-of-interest approach to relate activations of the attention network to recently described topographic areas in frontal cortex [frontal eye field (FEF), PreCC/IFS (precentral cortex/inferior frontal sulcus)] and parietal cortex [intraparietal sulcus areas (IPS1-IPS5) and an area in the superior parietal lobule (SPL1)] to examine their spatial attention signals.Wefound that attention signals in most topographic areas were spatially specific, with stronger responses when attention was directed to the contralateral than to the ipsilateral visual field. Importantly, two hemispheric asymmetries were found. First, a region in only right, but not left SPL1 carried spatial attention signals. Second, left FEF and left posterior parietal cortex (IPS1/2) generated stronger contralateral biasing signals than their counterparts in the right hemisphere. These findings are the first to characterize spatial attention signals in topographic frontal and parietal cortex and provide a neural basis in support of an interhemispheric competition account of spatial attentional control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-160
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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