Modulation of human extrastriate visual processing by selective attention to colours and words.
Nobre AC., Allison T., McCarthy G.
The present study investigated the effect of visual selective attention upon neural processing within functionally specialized regions of the human extrastriate visual cortex. Field potentials were recorded directly from the inferior surface of the temporal lobes in subjects with epilepsy. The experimental task required subjects to focus attention on words from one of two competing texts. Words were presented individually and foveally. Texts were interleaved randomly and were distinguishable on the basis of word colour. Focal field potentials were evoked by words in the posterior part of the fusiform gyrus. Selective attention strongly modulated long-latency potentials evoked by words. The attention effect co-localized with word-related potentials in the posterior fusiform gyrus, and was independent of stimulus colour. The results demonstrated that stimuli receive differential processing within specialized regions of the extrastriate cortex as a function of attention. The late onset of the attention effect and its co-localization with letter string-related potentials but not with colour-related potentials recorded from nearby regions of the fusiform gyrus suggest that the attention effect is due to top-down influences from downstream regions involved in word processing.