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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 2018, Vol. 30, No. 9, Pages 1281-1297
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01284)
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Attending to What and Where: Background Connectivity Integrates Categorical and Spatial Attention
Article PDF (2.76 MB)

Top–down attention prioritizes the processing of goal-relevant information throughout visual cortex based on where that information is found in space and what it looks like. Whereas attentional goals often have both spatial and featural components, most research on the neural basis of attention has examined these components separately. Here we investigated how these attentional components are integrated by examining the attentional modulation of functional connectivity between visual areas with different selectivity. Specifically, we used fMRI to measure temporal correlations between spatially selective regions of early visual cortex and category-selective regions in ventral temporal cortex while participants performed a task that benefitted from both spatial and categorical attention. We found that categorical attention modulated the connectivity of category-selective areas, but only with retinotopic areas that coded for the spatially attended location. Similarly, spatial attention modulated the connectivity of retinotopic areas only with the areas coding for the attended category. This pattern of results suggests that attentional modulation of connectivity is driven both by spatial selection and featural biases. Combined with exploratory analyses of frontoparietal areas that track these changes in connectivity among visual areas, this study begins to shed light on how different components of attention are integrated in support of more complex behavioral goals.