Dissociations between spatial-attentional processes within parietal cortex: insights from hybrid spatial cueing and change detection paradigms.
Vandenberghe R., Gillebert CR.
Spatial cueing has been used by many different groups under multiple forms to study spatial attention processes. We will present evidence obtained in brain-damaged patients and healthy volunteers using a variant of this paradigm, the hybrid spatial cueing paradigm, which, besides single-target trials with valid and invalid cues, also contains trials where a target is accompanied by a contralateral competing stimulus (competition trials). This allows one to study invalidity-related processes and selection between competing stimuli within the same paradigm. In brain-damaged patients, lesions confined to the intraparietal sulcus result in contralesional attentional deficits, both during competition and invalid trials, according to a pattern that does not differ from that observed following inferior parietal lesions. In healthy volunteers, however, selection between competing stimuli and invalidity-related processes are partially dissociable, the former relying mainly on cytoarchitectonic areas hIP1-3 in the intraparietal sulcus, the latter on cytoarchitectonic area PF in the right inferior parietal lobule. The activity profile in more posterior inferior parietal areas PFm and PGa, does not distinguish between both types of trials. The functional account for right PF and adjacent areas is further constrained by the activity profile observed during other experimental paradigms. In a change detection task with variable target and distracter set size, for example, these inferior parietal areas show highest activity when the stimulus array consists of only one single target, while the intraparietal sulcus show increased activity as the array contains more targets and distracters. Together, these findings lead us to the hypothesis that right PF functions as a target singleton detector, which is activated when a target stands out from the background, referring both to the temporal background (expectancy) and the momentaneous background (stimulus-driven saliency).