Baseline Shifts do not Predict Attentional Modulation of Target Processing During Feature-Based Visual Attention

Sean P Fannon, Clifford D Saron, and George R Mangun (2007). Front Hum Neurosci, 1:7.

Cues that direct selective attention to a spatial location have been observed toincrease baseline neural activity in visual areas that represent a to-be-attended stimulus location. Analogous attention-related baseline shifts have also been observed in response to attention-directing cues for non-spatial stimulus features. It has been proposed that baseline shifts with preparatory attention may serve as the mechanism by which attention modulates the responses to subsequent visual targets that match the attended location or feature. Using functional MRI, we localized color- and motion-sensitive visual areas in individual subjects and investigated the relationship between cue-induced baseline shifts and the subsequent attentional modulation of task-relevant target stimuli. Although attention-directing cues often led to increased background neural activity in feature specific visual areas, these increases were not correlated with either behavior in the task or subsequent attentional modulationof the visual targets. These findings cast doubt on the hypothesis that attention-related shifts in baseline neural activity result in selective sensoryprocessing of visual targets during feature-based selective attention.

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