The neural circuitry underlying the executive control of auditory spatial attention.
Although a fronto-parietal network has consistently been implicated in the control of visual spatial attention, the network that guides spatial attention in the auditory domain is not yet clearly understood. To investigate this issue, we measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging while participants performed a cued auditory spatial attention task. We found that cued orienting of auditory spatial attention activated a medial-superior distributed fronto-parietal network. In addition, we found cue-triggered increases of activity in the auditory sensory cortex prior to the occurrence of an auditory target, suggesting that auditory attentional control operates in part by biasing processing in sensory cortex in favor of expected target stimuli. Finally, an exploratory cross-study comparison further indicated several common frontal and parietal regions as being involved in the control of both visual and auditory spatial attention. Thus, the present findings not only reveal the network of brain areas underlying endogenous spatial orienting in the auditory modality, but also suggest that the control of spatial attention in different sensory modalities is enabled in part by some common, supramodal neural mechanisms.
Wu, C-T; Weissman, DH; Roberts, KC; Woldorff, MG
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