Dissociable prefrontal brain systems for attention and emotion.


Journal Article

The prefrontal cortex has been implicated in a variety of attentional, executive, and mnemonic mental operations, yet its functional organization is still highly debated. The present study used functional MRI to determine whether attentional and emotional functions are segregated into dissociable prefrontal networks in the human brain. Subjects discriminated infrequent and irregularly presented attentional targets (circles) from frequent standards (squares) while novel distracting scenes, parametrically varied for emotional arousal, were intermittently presented. Targets differentially activated middle frontal gyrus, posterior parietal cortex, and posterior cingulate gyrus. Novel distracters activated inferior frontal gyrus, amygdala, and fusiform gyrus, with significantly stronger activation evoked by the emotional scenes. The anterior cingulate gyrus was the only brain region with equivalent responses to attentional and emotional stimuli. These results show that attentional and emotional functions are segregated into parallel dorsal and ventral streams that extend into prefrontal cortex and are integrated in the anterior cingulate. These findings may have implications for understanding the neural dynamics underlying emotional distractibility on attentional tasks in affective disorders.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yamasaki, H; LaBar, KS; McCarthy, G

Published Date

  • August 12, 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 99 / 17

Start / End Page

  • 11447 - 11451

PubMed ID

  • 12177452

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12177452

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1091-6490

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0027-8424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.182176499


  • eng