Spontaneous neuronal activity distinguishes human dorsal and ventral attention systems

Michael D. Fox, Maurizio Corbetta, Abraham Z. Snyder, Justin L. Vincent, Marcus E. Raichle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1209 Scopus citations

Abstract

On the basis of task-related imaging studies in normal human subjects, it has been suggested that two attention systems exist in the human brain: a bilateral dorsal attention system involved in top-down orienting of attention and a right-lateralized ventral attention system involved in reorienting attention in response to salient sensory stimuli. An important question is whether this functional organization emerges only in response to external attentional demands or is represented more fundamentally in the internal dynamics of brain activity. To address this question, we examine correlations in spontaneous fluctuations of the functional MRI blood oxygen level-dependent signal in the absence of task, stimuli, or explicit attentional demands. We identify a bilateral dorsal attention system and a right-lateralized ventral attention system solely on the basis of spontaneous activity. Further, we observe regions in the prefrontal cortex correlated with both systems, a potential mechanism for mediating the functional interaction between systems. These findings demonstrate that the neuroanatomical substrates of human attention persist in the absence of external events, reflected in the correlation structure of spontaneous activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10046-10051
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number26
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 27 2006

Keywords

  • Blood oxygen level-dependent signal
  • Functional MRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Orienting
  • Synchrony

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