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Top–down biases win against focal attention in the fusiform face area

Reddy, Leila and Moradi, Farshad and Koch, Christof (2007) Top–down biases win against focal attention in the fusiform face area. NeuroImage, 38 (4). pp. 730-739. ISSN 1053-8119.

Image (JPEG) (Fig. S1. Eye movement control for 3 subjects) - Supplemental Material
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Image (JPEG) (Fig. S2. BOLD activity for six subjects in the main experiment in foveal and peripheral retinotopic regions, including V1 and V2) - Supplemental Material
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Many studies have reported that BOLD activity in visual cortex is enhanced in the presence of selective attention. These reports are seemingly at odds with psychophysical data showing that observers are able to efficiently categorize natural stimuli in the near-absence of focal attention. To reconcile these two lines of evidence, we study the effects of attentional modulation on face-selective responses in the fusiform face area (FFA) using fMRI. Different from previous fMRI studies in which an “attended” condition (where subjects make a behavioral report on faces) is compared to an “unattended” condition (where the faces are task irrelevant), we included a third condition in which focal attention was not fully available to the faces yet they remained task relevant. Thus we were able to distinguish between the effects of spatial attention and a task-based component of attention. Whether or not subjects had to spatially attend to the faces made no difference to the amplitude of BOLD activity in the FFA provided the faces had to be discriminated. As expected, we observed a decrease in BOLD activity in the FFA when faces were task irrelevant. This pattern of modulation of the BOLD response as a function of the subject’s behavior was region specific as it did not extend to the parahippocampal place area. These results point to a coherent picture of how spatial attention and top–down task-based attention interact in visual cortex.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription material
Koch, Christof0000-0001-6482-8067
Additional Information:Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Inc. Received 10 April 2007; Revised 12 July 2007; Accepted 3 August 2007; Available online 19 August 2007. We wish to thank S. Flaherty for technical assistance and Rufin VanRullen and Constanze Hofstötter for comments on the manuscript. We thank Constanze Hofstötter for suggesting the retinotopic control experiment. This work was supported by grants from the NSF (the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering), the NIMH, the Keck Foundation and by a Tom Slick Research Award of the Mind Science Foundation.
Group:Koch Laboratory (KLAB)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering, CaltechUNSPECIFIED
Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Tom Slick Research Award of the Mind Science FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130816-103350399
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Official Citation:Leila Reddy, Farshad Moradi, Christof Koch, Top–down biases win against focal attention in the fusiform face area, NeuroImage, Volume 38, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 730-739, ISSN 1053-8119, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:40656
Deposited By: KLAB Import
Deposited On:28 May 2008 02:17
Last Modified:03 Mar 2020 13:01

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